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From Portsmouth to Aberystwyth: a failed contract in action

Blog Author Tom Bysouth

Blog Date 19/06/2019

News reached us this week that Portsmouth, England's most densely populated city, will no longer be able to offer access to any new NHS patients come July.   

It's a shocking story, which I think makes our case for ensuring better access in Wales ever more urgent. 

Because the forces driving access problems in Wales - and the contract that underpins them - are no different.  

And as families on England's South coast prepare to take ferry rides to access NHS dentistry, we've already shown patients on the Mid Wales coast are facing 90-mile round  trips to do the same.

And we've ensured the Welsh Assembly has woken up to this. Assembly Members from across the parties have already given their support and our evidence has been included in the latest Health, Social Care and Sport Committee’s report.


We’ve been highlighting the unsustainability of UDAs, clawback, the issues around recruitment and retention, rising levels of stress and falling morale, and access issues for our patients. All of these are now acknowledged by this report, supported by feedback from you, our members. 

We’ve also been campaigning to fix some of the problems with the current contract, including the very real recruitment and retention crisis we are facing in Wales. There have been countless closures, problems around clawback and some areas where there are no takers for new contracts. 

We have called for action and said that the annual uplifts recommended by the pay review body (the DDRB), need to be delivered to help stop the falling income we’ve experienced over the last 10 years. 

We have done some new research into the state of access for dental patients in Wales, to show the scale of the problem and will be publishing our findings in BDJ at the end of this month. This evidence will help to underpin the arguments we are making to Government. 

As my colleagues Eddie Crouch, Vice-Chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee has said, you can’t have NHS dentistry without dentists. 

We await the Cabinet Secretary's official response to the Welsh Assembly's Health Committee report and look forward to the points raised by Assembly members and dentists across Wales being addressed to ensure the best outcomes for our profession, and for our patients. 

In Wales we are pleased there has been progress in reforming the current contract and look forward to the delivery of real change so dentists and their teams can get on with delivery quality dental care without the threat of pernicious targets and unfair clawback.

Tom Bysouth, Chair
Welsh General Dental Practice Committee 

BDA Wales

BDA Wales campaigns for the interests of all dentists working in Wales. With our elected committee members, we negotiate on behalf of the profession on terms and conditions, pay and contracts: join us.