Welsh dental patients face a struggle to find an NHS dentist

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Dental patients in Wales are facing a struggle to find an NHS dental practice that is accepting new patients.

Sandra Hembery is one of many patients affected by a shortage of dentists in Wales. Having relocated from Kent to Carmarthen, Sandra assumed that it would be relatively easy to find a dentist, but soon after she moved, she discovered that registering with a dentist wasn’t going to be plain sailing. Shortly after Sandra upped sticks and settled in a village near Carmarthen, her partner started to experience severe dental pain, and after finding it difficult to source an emergency dentist, he saw a private dentist. Having been through this unexpected situation, Sandra made it a priority to find herself a new dentist, and started calling around local NHS practices.

After calling all the clinics in and around Carmarthen with no success, Sandra contacted the dental helpline at Hywel Dda and Powys health board, but she was informed that there were no places available in the area and encouraged to try practices in Llanelli. A few phone calls later, the best option offered to Sandra was joining a waiting list for an appointment in 9-12 months. Sandra’s research led her to discover that 88 practices in the region were not accepting new NHS adult patients.

Sandra’s story is not an isolated tale, and recently, it emerged that patients had queued around the block, some waiting up to four hours in the cold to register with a new practice due to open in Llangollen.

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