Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Arfon Siân Gwenllian has called on Welsh Labour Government Health Minister Vaughan Gething to ‘step-in as a matter of urgency’, as findings from a report by the British Dental Association (Wales) reveal there are no practices in Arfon accepting children and young people with learning disabilities on the NHS.
Of the six dental practices operating in Arfon, not one is accepting NHS adults or accepting NHS children, whilst three of the six practices are accepting private patients. This is due to the way the current dental contract caps NHS patient numbers.
The figures also reveal that across the whole of Wales, only one in five (15%) dental practices can take on new adult patients with only one in four (27%) taking on children on the NHS.
Siân Gwenllian AM has been contacted by many constituents concerned at their inability to access NHS dental care in Gwynedd. She will raise the matter during a Business Statement in the Assembly today.
Siân Gwenllian AM said: “These are extremely alarming findings and reinforce the concerns already being conveyed to me by my local constituents who are finding it impossible to access a dentist on the NHS.
“It’s not a satisfactory state of affairs. I am getting letters from local people who are at a loss to know where they can get access to NHS dentistry.
“I am particularly alarmed to hear that children and young people with learning disabilities are being shut out from accessing dental care.’
‘This could have serious and life-long implications on children’s oral health. The human cost of this crisis is huge.
“Welsh Government needs to urgently address this shocking and worsening situation by working with local dental care providers to ensure our area is sufficiently equipped with more NHS dentists.
“We should also be looking at training dentists locally as a long-term solution to the crisis, to be developed on the back of the medical training that is due to commence in Bangor later this year.
“Local people have already paid for NHS dentistry through their taxes – it is high-time that they should be able to get what they have paid for.”
Chair of the BDA’s Welsh General Dental Practice Committee Tom Bysouth said: “The fact that not one practice in Arfon can take on new child NHS patients is a damning indictment of a failed system.
“For local families NHS dentistry is now just a nice idea rather than a reality they can depend on.
“Dentists are working under a broken contract that’s fuelled a recruitment and retention crisis, and left patients facing epic journeys to access care.
“Voices across the Welsh Assembly are calling for real change. We need ministers to deliver a system that works for patients.”