As MP for the Vale of Clwyd, I have been contacted by a number of constituents who have been struggling to access NHS dental services in the local area. This is a matter of great concern and is sadly representative of an underlying, significant issue with access to NHS dentistry across Wales and beyond.
Access issues have been exacerbated by the fact that dental practices in the local area, through no fault of their own, have felt it necessary to turn away from the provision of NHS services. This partly relates to disincentives within the 2006 dental contracts, which remain in place.
I have written to the Health Board on behalf of constituents who have been struggling to access NHS dental care. In response, the Health Board has confirmed that they will commission additional dental services for those areas identified as having high needs and existing low levels of NHS provision.
However, I appreciate that this will not provide certainty for those who need to access dentistry in the meantime. The Health Board is providing access to dentists for historic patients and based on clinical need.
Regrettably, as I understand it, there are currently no dental practices taking on new NHS patients in North Wales. However, a number do have open – albeit very lengthy - waiting lists.
You can find your nearest NHS dentist here: https://bcuhb.nhs.wales/services/where-do-i-go1/dental/general-dental-services/
If you require urgent dental services, or if you are unable to find a dentist accepting NHS patients, the current advice is to contact NHS 111 Wales for further support.
It may also be helpful to know that, if you are in a position to travel, you may register with an NHS dentist out of area and I am aware of some practices in bordering areas of North West England that are offering NHS services or have an open waiting list.
As this is a devolved matter, I wrote to the Welsh Government regarding Dental Contract Reform. This aims to reform primary care dentistry and increase access to dental care. I have attached their response to the bottom of this page and I have recently written to them to request an update on this matter.
Obviously, this is an issue that is increasingly important as access to dentists continues to diminish. The urgency of contract reform in Wales cannot be understated.
While I fully recognise that waiting times and access to dental services have been affected by the pandemic, I am concerned that dental services in Wales were lagging behind England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in both quality and capacity even before the pandemic began. In fact, a BBC and British Dental Association Survey confirms that Wales had the least availability of NHS dentists in the UK, with 93% of practices not accepting new adult patients.
Last year, I met the British Dental Association and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to discuss the issues facing local dental services in more depth. I relayed the concerns of many constituents regarding access to dentistry in the Vale of Clwyd and how these services might be improved going forward. Following these meetings, I wrote to the Health Board to share some of the concerns of the BDA and of constituents. I have attached the Health Board’s response at the bottom of this page.
In October 2023, I requested a further meeting with the Health Board for an update as, regrettably, another local NHS dental practice announced their intention to remove NHS provision. While the Health Board confirmed that there are plans in place to improve the situation in the future, unfortunately these are not going to be rapid. Additionally, the Health Board advised me that, should urgent treatment be required, any local NHS practices is expected to either offer an appointment or provide further support.
Please do get in touch with me if you are having difficulties accessing dental treatment, and I will be pleased to make representations on your behalf.