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Labour’s ‘rotten record’ on dentistry comes under fire in the Senedd

LLYR GRUFFYDD, the MS for North Wales shared “damning” figures that show that only 11% of dental practices in the region are taking on NHS patients in the next 12 months.

A breakdown of the data shows that in Denbighshire the figure is 0%, in Flintshire it is 7%, while in Wrexham it is 15%.

The Plaid Cymru politician’s office has contacted 97% of the dental practices in North Wales in order to get a detailed understanding of the dentistry crisis.

He has also launched a survey to asses the state of NHS dentistry across the region, and is urging constituents to share their views.

This follows the decision of by Ruthin Dental Practice to stop its NHS service and go private.

In a statement from Ruthin Dental Practice has said it is “having to make crucial decisions to ensure our practice survives”.

According to Mr Gruffydd the “effective privatisation of a key element of the NHS” is underway in Wales.

Llyr Gruffydd told the Senedd: “My office has contacted and spoken with 97% of all dental practices across the north and, of those we spoke with, only 11% are taking NHS patients on in the next 12 months.

“The average wait for an NHS space was two years. Just over a half of them are taking children on as NHS patients, and the waiting times for NHS children can be anywhere from three months to three years, with the average being two years. Now, that’s a damning indictment, and it does reveal the scale of Labour’s rotten record on dental services.

“The figures are damning, and it echoes something the Minister has refused to acknowledge in the past, but that has to be acknowledged now. There are three tiers within the service.

“There are those who can access NHS services, and they are very fortunate, and they’re becoming few and far between. There are those who can’t access NHS services but they can afford private treatment. They’re fortunate, but, as we’ve heard, some perhaps can’t really afford to pay but they have little choice.

“And there are some – and this is a cohort that’s increasing week on week, month on month – who don’t have access to NHS services and can’t afford to pay for private services.

“The Government hasn’t tackled that issue, and these are the people who will pay the price not only in terms of their dental health, but for some in terms of their mental health as well. Because I come across cases of people, particularly young people, waiting for orthodontic treatment, who have been waiting a long time and it’s starting to impact on their mental health, and I do think we have to acknowledge that.

“So, I would encourage Members to support Plaid Cymru’s amendment to this motion and that we encourage the Government to review dental contracts, that we look at strengthening dental training provision, and that we develop a strategy to retain the current workforce because, as we see with GPs, they are leaving in large numbers and that’s making a bad situation worse.”

Following the debate in the Senedd, he said: “Dental services in north Wales are in crisis with more and more practices closing their doors to NHS patients. This is the result of Labour’s rotten record on dentistry. We’re seeing the effective privatisation of a key element of the NHS with tens of thousands of people across north Wales unable to access a dentist. This includes children and pregnant women, and it has long-term implications for people’s health.

“That’s why I’m launching a survey to assess the state of NHS dentistry across the north Wales region I represent. We want to know what’s happening to you and what you think about the state of dental services in your area.

“Please click Dentist survey – Arolwg deintyddion (llyrgruffydd.wales) to complete our two-minute survey. The findings will be collated and will help inform our campaign to improve dental services in Wales. We cannot allow Labour’s rotten record to continue.”