Urgent action must be taken by the Welsh Government to ensure residents across South East Wales can access an NHS dentist when they need to, Natasha Asghar MS has urged.
The South East Wales politician told the Welsh Parliament this week that getting a dentist appointment was “becoming a living hell” for many residents.
Natasha told the chamber on Wednesday (Jan 10): “Residents are forced to tolerate pain as they struggle to secure an appointment or even find a dentist on the NHS in the first place.
“One elderly constituent of mine was forced to travel across the border into England to pay for private treatment as she struggled to find a local practice to see her on the NHS.”
The MS also revealed she was forced to take her own mother into England for treatment because the practice she was with failed to help when she needed it.
She told the Welsh Government’s health minister Eluned Morgan MS: “Going private simply isn’t an option for many of my constituents.
“I am sure you’ll agree minister that stories like the ones I just shared aren’t acceptable, and that people all across Wales should have easy access to NHS dentists.”
Natasha asked the health minister what steps the Welsh Government is taking to ensure more people can be seen by NHS dentists in reasonable time.
Eluned Morgan said the Welsh Government had spent a significant amount of time trying to reorganise the sector by introducing a new contract, which the health minister claimed has resulted in dentists taking on new patients.
The minister said: “The fact is that nearly 290,000 new patients have received treatment since April 2022, which is not an insignificant amount, including 50,000 people within the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area.
“Now are they taking on enough? No, because, obviously, there’s been a reduction, partly as a result of the pandemic and new methods that you have to undertake to make sure that there’s no spread of infections.”
Commenting after the exchange in the chamber, Natasha Asghar MS said:
“Being able to see an NHS dentist in a timely manner is something every resident in South East Wales and beyond should be able to do as far as I am concerned.
“I have heard some truly shocking stories of residents removing their own teeth as they can’t wait in pain any longer and others being forced to cough up vast amounts of money to receive treatment. This is unacceptable.
“Whilst I appreciate the minister’s response to my question, it’s clear more urgent action is needed from the Welsh Government to finally get a grip on this issue.”