WQ91407 (e) Tabled on 19/02/2024

What is the Welsh Government's strategy for increasing the number of dentists and increasing dental provision in South Wales West?

Answered by Minister for Health and Social Services | Answered on 27/02/2024

Access to NHS dentistry is not where we would like it to be. Historic access issues have been further compounded by the pandemic. We are working on system reform to make improvements for the public and the profession.

We know there is a need to attract dentists, particularly to more rural parts of Wales. To support this, Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) has put together an enhanced offer, which aims to encourage future dental trainees to complete their foundation year in dental practices across rural Wales. In addition to a £5,000 salary uplift, dentists taking up the offer will be provided with enhanced academic and wellbeing support for the duration of the programme.

Six out of the 10 places available are in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area, which will help to increase access to NHS dental care.

We are embedding the principals of prudent healthcare by moving away from the much-criticised Units of Dental Activity (UDA) model and re-orientating dentistry towards prevention and providing care on a risk and needs basis. By doing so, I believe we can increase both quality of care and access for patients. New patient access is a key part of what we are trying to achieve with the reform of dentistry.

Since April 2022, more than 28,000 new patients have been seen in Hywel Dda University Health Board.

We will continue to build on the lessons learned from contract reform thus far. We are engaged in tripartite negotiations with the British Dental Association and the NHS to develop a new general dental services (GDS) contract. Concluding this process will be key to creating a service, which prioritises provision of care to all who need it, as well as making NHS dentistry attractive to dentists.

We all want to see the creation of an effective and sustainable GDS model that cares effectively for the public and fairly remunerates the profession. I have no doubt that through constructive cooperation, negotiations will provide all contributing parties the platform to work through this challenging agenda effectively and to identify solutions that will enact the significant changes required.