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Nearly half of Welsh people have not visited an NHS dentist in two years

Tue

According to statistics released by the Welsh government, almost half of Welsh people have not received NHS dental care in over two years. The figures show that 54.7% of the population, which amounts to 1.7million patients – received dental treatment under the NHS in the two years ending March 31st, 2014. More than a third of children did not visit an NHS dentist, with just under two thirds of under eighteens undergoing dental treatment during the same time period.

Although the figures are damning, the Welsh Government maintains that this is not an accurate representation of the nation’s dental health, as the statistics do not take into account those who have been treated by the Community Dental Service or have chosen to undergo treatment privately.

Opposition political parties suggest that more should be done to increase access to NHS dentists. Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said ‘In 2006, the Welsh Labour Government set a 100% target for everyone in Wales to have access to an NHS dentist. That target has since been quietly dropped. This has led to many Welsh people being unable to access an NHS dentist.’ She added that just one dentist out of 61 practices in Cardiff and one out of 42 in Swansea were accepting new NHS patients.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said that according to the Welsh Health Survey ‘more than 70% of people reported seeing a dentist in the last 12 months. There are some 33,000 more patients accessing NHS general dental services that there were three years ago. We are continuing to take action to make sure everyone in Wales, no matter where they live, has access to NHS dental care when they need it.’

Welsh Government continue to review water fluoridation

Mon

The Chief Dental Officer for Wales, David Thomas, has said that there is strong scientific evidence that adding fluoride to the water supply can significantly improve dental health in all areas of the country; the Welsh Government has said there are no plans to implement the scheme just yet but after some discussion with Health Minister Mark Drakeford, have said that they will continue to review the policy.

Giving evidence to the National Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee, Mr Thomas said ‘In terms of fluoridation, the Welsh Government policy line is that there are no plans to fluoridate the water supply. I have discussed the issue with the Minister. There are some particular political and financial issues that would make fluoridation difficult, but it’s something that we will continue to keep under review because obviously there is evidence that the health of the whole community is improved with fluoridation.’

Critics have argued that this practice is ‘mass medication’ but Mr Thomas countered that, according to scientific evidence, adding fluoride to the water supply ‘certainly provides an improvement in oral health for all members of the population.’ He went on to suggest that research has shown there could be a reduction of inequality between ‘the haves and the have-nots’ to provide all sections of society with better dental health.

Nearly half of the people in Wales have not visited an NHS dentist in two years

Fri

Figures released by the Welsh Government have shown that almost half the population did not visit the dentist at all over the last two years. Statistics revealed that only 55.7% of the people in Wales were recorded to have visited an NHS dentist in the past twenty-four months, with a total of 1.5million procedures being carried out during this time. Although this is an increase of 1.8% from 2010-2011, a large number of people have not been able to access NHS treatment because of the number of dentists available and concern over price.

Dental hygienist Alison Lowe, based in Cardiff, said that ‘access to dental care is still difficult. People still find that they cannot get an NHS dentist and because of the financial climate people are reluctant to pay for work as well.’ She went on to say that the cost of future dental treatment was also of some concern to the Welsh public, adding ‘Many worry that they won’t be able to afford dental care now and in the future and younger people are now more inclined to seek private treatment. Emergency dental services on weekends are full and people just cannot afford to pay for it.’

Only last month the Welsh Government launched Together for Health, a programme designed to reduce oral health inequalities over the next five years. Health minister Lesley Griffiths said that ‘Oral health is an intrinsic part of general health and prevention is at the core of the draft plan.’

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