According to one NHS orthodontist, thousands of children in west Wales are waiting years to get orthodontic treatment, due to lack of funding caused by a massive backlog in patient care. It has been suggested that even if funding was doubled, waiting lists in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, would take five years to clear.
David Howells, who runs Pencastell Orthodontics, the only NHS Orthodontist in west Wales, spoke to BBC Radio Wales about the problem, saying that the clinic only has the capacity to treat around 800 cases a year, leaving thousands of children waiting longer than three years to get the orthodontic treatment they need. Mr Howells blamed the problem on NHS funding, rather than the lack of available dentists; he also added that the issue began in 2006 when new dental contracts were imposed on NHS dentists. He explained that dental practices used to manage their own patient lists but with the health board taking over this aspect of treatment it has led to ‘wasted funding’ which could be used to help more patients.
The Welsh government released a statement saying that an outreach programme had been set up to try and combat the problem. The statement said that the government has invested £700,000 in improving patient referrals for dental and orthodontic treatment, in an effort to make the system ‘more efficient and reduce waiting times.’