Welsh Government cooking the books on patient numbers
6 January 2023
The British Dental Association has urged the Welsh Government to correct the record, following misleading claims that 112,000 'extra' dental appointments have been secured by recent reforms.
Under plans taken forward last year Ministers have made dentists prioritise seeing 'new' patients, with healthier patients receiving less frequent check-ups.
BDA Wales stress the reality is the increase in new patients – many of whom are higher needs and require more time and attention – will necessitate a sharp drop in access for more regular attenders. It warns these numbers cannot disguise the Welsh Government's unwillingness to invest in NHS services and provide access for all. The total number of patients seen by NHS dentists in Wales has yet to return to anything resembling pre-COVID levels.
Dentist leaders say pledges of £2m in additional funding to increase access to dental services amount to a 1% boost on pre-COVID budget levels and will barely scrape the sides given skyrocketing inflation. They stress meaningfully boosting access and halting the exodus from the NHS workforce can only be achieved through sustained investment, which the Welsh Government has thus far declined to offer.
Russell Gidney, Chair of the British Dental Association's Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, said:
"The Welsh Government is cooking the books on patient numbers. Ministers haven't created 100,000 extra appointments but simply moved the goalposts.
"The fact is for every new patient seen a dozen historic patients could lose access to dentistry. This is all that's possible when we fail to meaningfully invest in frontline services."