Proposal to introduce new right to NHS treatment

Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM and Jonathan Edwards MP have said that urgent action is required to address the shortfall in NHS dentist capacity in Wales. The pair have said that too many people in communities across Carmarthenshire are finding it difficult to access an NHS dentist and are therefore going without essential dental treatment.

Rhodri and Jonathan, who have spoken to a number of county residents unable to access local dental services, have outlined proposals currently being considered by Plaid as a means of addressing this problem. The proposals, if implemented, would introduce a new right to NHS treatment for the people of Wales. This treatment would be provided by dentists who have benefitted from state-funded training. Under the proposals these dentists would have to devote up to half their working week to the care of NHS patients.

It costs the tax payer £175,000 to put dentistry students through five years of training, after which, under the current system, they are required to spend only the first year of their career as a qualified practitioner within the NHS.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM said:

“It is clear that currently many people in Wales are finding it difficult to find an NHS dentist, supply simply doesn’t meet demand. In Carmarthen East and Dinefwr only 57% of people have visited a dentist in the past 24 months. This ask some serious questions about dental health in the county. There are only 5.1 dentists for every 10,000 people in Carmarthenshire which shows the sort of pressure the service is under.

At the best of times going private is something people can’t afford, when we are in the middle of a recession that simply isn’t an option. Regular dental check-ups are essential. It’s a case of prevention as much as anything and can be crucial in identifying more serious diseases.

Plaid is looking very seriously at how this urgent lack of NHS dentists in Welsh communities can be addressed. One proposal that we are considering is the introduction of a new right to NHS treatment for the people of Wales. This would be provided by dentists who have benefitted from state-funded training. Under the proposal Plaid in government would negotiate with dentists to ensure that those who have received state-funded training will remain in the NHS for up to half their working week.”

Jonathan Edwards MP added:

“The proposal is something that would be possible even in the face of the savage spending cuts that the London ConDem government is imposing on Wales as it would be a matter of renegotiating dental contracts rather than capital investment.

Plaid is ambitious for the future of Wales. We’re not content to sit back and accept the status quo. We’re looking at new, radical and innovative policies and solutions that will transform Wales and its communities.”

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