Dentists warn over ‘access crisis’ in Wales, as patients struggle to register with NHS practices

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The British Dental Association has issued a warning over an “access crisis” as more and more patients struggle to find practices offering NHS places in Wales.

Research suggests that only 1 in 6 dental practices in Wales are accepting new NHS dental patients. Just over 25% of practices currently have NHS child places available.

In light of the situation, the BDA is campaigning for a change in the contract, which would alter the way dentists are paid. The existing contract, according to the BDA, is contributing to issues with the number of places and also affecting morale in the dental profession.

British Dental Association researchers found that there were significant variations between different health boards, with some areas offering no NHS adult places at all. In the region overseen by the Hywel Dda Health Board, for example, which covers Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, there were no practices offering spaces. In contrast, in Cwm Taf, 15 of the 28 practices had places available for adults.

The BDA also found that 40% of practices in Wales are receiving inquiries about NHS registration on a daily basis, and one practice in the area covered by Cardiff and Vale reporting taking up to 60 calls in a single day from patients wanting to join the register.

Dentist, Lauren Harrhy, from Pontypool, said that she was unable to accept additional NHS patients on the grounds that the practice doesn’t have the funding, the capacity or the space.

The Welsh Government has said that it is currently working to produce a new, improved dental contract.

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