Chepstow dentist claims there are not enough dentists to meet demand in Wales

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A dentist from Chepstow claims there are not enough dentists to meet rising demand for treatment in Wales.

Russell Gidney said that the pandemic has created huge backlogs due to practices having to close and then operate under tight restrictions for several months. Before the Covid crisis hit, Mr Gidney’s practice treated up to 500 patients per week, but at the height of the pandemic, numbers fell to just six.

In 2019, 2.3 million courses of dental treatment were delivered in Wales compared to 540,000 in 2020/2021. The number of routine check-ups fell by 99.4% as dentists were forced to limit appointment numbers and prioritise urgent cases.

Mr Gidney suggested that there has never really been enough focus on dentistry, but the situation now is very serious. There are not enough dentists or dental nurses, the NHS contract means that practices are struggling to afford to increase capacity and the demand for treatment is rising. Many patients haven’t seen a dentist in the last two years and more people need treatment for minor issues that have developed into more complex problems because routine appointments have not been available.

Mr Gidney has called for more funding and changes to the contract to support NHS dental services and additional help to ensure that surgeries are sustainable in the future.

Health minister, Eluned Morgan, said that the government had made more funding available for NHS dental practices during the pandemic, but many had been reluctant to come forward, often prioritising private care. The challenge for the government, she explained, is to encourage more dentists to stay in the NHS, to boost the recruitment of dentists and dental nurses and to ensure that patients don’t have to join long waiting lists.

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