The shortfall in dentists across Ynys Môn and the wider region has very real implications for dental health in the area and must be addressed urgently, according to Plaid Cymru AM Rhun ap Iorwerth.
Over recent months following news of dental practices closing across the region, the Ynys Môn AM has been in regular discussions with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board about their plans to go to task on finding a resolution to ensure that patients across Ynys Môn have access to regular dental treatment via a local practice.
In April 2019, correspondence from the Health Board to Mr ap Iorwerth noted that patients who had been affected by the closure of the Cathedral Walk Practice in Bangor should ‘contact a practice convenient to them’ to enquire whether or not they have capacity, implying that finding another dental service provider is somewhat straightforward in the current climate.
Following announcements of further planned closures since then, the Plaid Cymru AM has been in further correspondence with the Health Board who have since admitted that all of their ‘modest’ additional capacity has been ‘rapidly filled’, admitting that this has not offset the full impact of recent closures, leaving some patients without access to regular dental care outside urgent need.
The Health Board also admits that it anticipates ‘the current position regarding access to dental services will persist for a while yet.’
In response to this, Mr ap Iorwerth said:
“There’s no point in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board implying that all a patient has to do is phone around to get access to services when we know how limited that access is. It is a serious problem that has very real implications for dental health across the region.
“Following a series of letters on this matter, the Health Board now admits the scale of the problem and says it’ll be some time before it’s resolved, but this highlights the urgency with which we need to address the shortfall in services locally.
“One of the problems highlighted regularly is a lack of dentists being trained and recruited locally. Plaid Cymru succeeded in its campaign to see full Medical Education offered at Bangor University and we have also called for a debate on dentistry with the hope of seeing that education now being offered in Bangor extended to training new dentists too. We need them to solve this current crisis.