- Published: Thursday, 17 November 2022 07:44
- Written by Guy Tuggle
- Hits: 1053
CyrmuOnline has reported that “around 28,000 new patients will be offered NHS appointments at dental practices in Swansea Bay by April, 2023”.
The initiative aims to tackle a backlog in patients waiting to get an NHS dental appointment, and follows reports of people resorting to ‘pulling their own teeth out in desperation’.
The BBC recently conducted a survey of over 7000 practices in England and Wales and found that over 90% were not accepting new adult patients whilst 83% said they were not in a position to accept new children. Only a third of adults in England and Wales have seen an NHS dentist over the last two years.
MPs nationally have reported a surge in complaints from their constituents, miffed as to why when they pay taxes for a service they can’t access it when they need it in an emergency.
Cymruonline’s report stated that “the Welsh government has updated contracts with dental practices across Wales to ensure they will see more NHS patients. Swansea Bay’s dental practices should see around 28,000 new patients between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2023, according to Swansea Bay NHS”.
The report added that “over fourteen thousand appointments have already been allocated to new patients and people who are looking for an NHS dentist for routine care should contact a number of their local practices and, if an appointment cannot be offered straight away, ask to be put on their waiting list”
Would be patients were advised that “there is no limit to the number of waiting lists you can join, and a practice will be in touch if they have an appointment for you”.
A new patient is classed as someone who has not been to that dental practice in the last four years.
The health board advises that those needing urgent dental care and who do not have a regular dentist should call 111 as there is a service for people who are in pain or have facial swelling. Those who already have a regular dentist can contact them directly or call 111 if it is out-of-hours.
Sharon Miller, Associate Director for Primary Care at Swansea Bay University Health Board, said: "Similarly to other services, the number of patients able to be seen at dental practices was very limited during the pandemic. The target of seeing up to 28,000 new patients is hoped to make a significant impact on the backlog of those waiting for appointments.
“Dental practices were closed at the start of the pandemic and then very restricted on the number of patients that could come through,” added Ms Miller. “This new expectation puts a real focus on new patients being seen.”
Karl Bishop, the Health Board’s Dental Director, said: “The offer made by Welsh Government to practices in Wales to move to a contract model that encourages prevention and access for the most vulnerable and in need in our communities has been enthusiastically taken up by dentists in Swansea Bay.
“Almost 100 per cent of NHS dental care within the health board will be within this new model. This is a huge positive reflection on the commitment and foresight of our dental practitioners and their teams. It also provides significant benefits and opportunities for our communities as part of the health board’s drive to improve oral health and its impact on wider general health and social and family life.”
What is not clear is who is going to see the new patients and how the extra capacity has been created in a system that is creaking under the stress of patient demand for a severely finite service.
If you work at a dental practice in the Swansea and Neath Port Talbot area GDPUK would be interested to hear your views on the veracity of the claims being made. If your practice is managing to see new patients is this at the expense of access to existing ones?
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