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​Dentists: Patients in Wales deserve better than rationing of care

The British Dental Association Wales has backed cross party calls for meaningful reform of NHS dentistry.

In its new report, The Senedd Health Committee has stressed the need to appropriately measure unmet need for NHS care, and for the Welsh Government to review whether the current levels of funding are appropriate for the service to achieve what’s needed in terms of reducing the backlogs.

Last month BDA Wales issued an open letter to the Chief Dental Officer for Wales stressing a growing number of dentists and practices will leave the NHS given the new, untested targets being pushed by the Welsh Government, without necessary financial support.

The Welsh Government has repeatedly claimed a boost of 112,000 new patients, when this increase will necessitate a sharp drop in access for more regular attenders. New patients have typically higher needs and will require significantly more time and attention. The BDA stress the Welsh Government’s unwillingness to invest in NHS services and provide access for all amount to rationing.

BDA Wales support the principle of government contract reform, which is needs-led preventive care. As cited within the report they warn “there is no magic fix to a problem that lies fundamentally in underinvestment.”

Russell Gidney, Chair of the British Dental Association’s Welsh General Dental Practice Committee said:

“While there’s uncertainty on the scale of the backlogs, what is clear is the Welsh Government’s response has been woefully inadequate.

“Ministers have dressed up the rationing of care as an access boost. Taking away services from hundreds of thousands of existing patients to provide for new ones is not progress. It’s just stretching an inadequate budget and hoping for the best.

“What we are yet to see is genuine reform underpinned by sustainable investment. Practices are leaving the NHS simply to remain viable, and without change many patients will be left with no options.”