Dr David Johnson, Chair of the BDA Welsh Committee for Community Dentistry, has written to the Health Minister Baroness Morgan to register our concerns about the situation of delayed patient care in the community dental service. Dr Johnson argued that if the backlog of these patients could be reduced and their oral health stabilised sooner the need for GAs could in some cases be avoided.
Many CDS surgeries in several Local Health Boards have also been overlooked in the allocation of funding for air handling equipment to help reduce fallow times and improve patient throughput and this needs to be put right. The fallow times required under current infection control measures are making a difficult situation worse and improving the air handling equipment and reducing fallow periods is one solution that is within the gift of LHBs.
The Health Minister recently pledged dentistry in Wales a one-time £3m funding in the current financial year plus an additional £2m recurring funding. However, there is little sign this extra funding is being used for the much-needed capital expenditure (capex) for CDS practices where it could make a direct improvement to patient care. Welsh Government officials explained that it is difficult to divert money for patient care to capex funding. But as Dr Johnson said, this is "deeply disappointing news for our patients as it would have been a significant accelerator for many CDS surgeries to enable us to effectively tackle the colossal backlog we are facing."
LHBs must address this issue and we have called on Baroness Morgan to fix the problem regarding capex funding. Health Boards need to be properly funded for CDS surgery upgrades and instructed by government to make this happen where there is a lack of action. We will keep you updated with any developments.