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Wales: Funding boost must reach most vulnerable

17 November 2021


Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan MS has pledged additional funding for access to NHS dental services in Wales, allocating up to £3m to Health Boards in 2021-2022 to expedite the recovery of services and bolster urgent and emergency care. An additional £2m in recurrent funding has also been promised to allow Health Boards to increase access and capacity needs over the medium term.

 

We welcome these commitments for additional funding, which is in stark contrast to the situation in England where no additional funding has been provided. However, we have also stressed that this extra funding is unlikely to prove a game changer, while strict pandemic protocols remain in force. Maintaining gaps of up to an hour - fallow time - between most treatments, for instance, has slashed capacity across the service. The length of these gaps can be reduced by high volume ventilation. 

 

There have been no indications that additional funds will be made available to community dental services. NHS high street practices have already been offered capital funding for ventilation upgrades. However, it has not been offered on the same basis to the community services, which treat the nation's most vulnerable adults and children who cannot be cared for in mainstream settings. Local Health Boards must provide more funding to these essential services.

 

Katrina Clarke, Chair of the BDA's Welsh Council said: 

 

"This is welcome investment but is unlikely to be a game changer for high street dentists, who are still working to tight restrictions that set clear limits on the number of patients they can treat. 

 

"Ministers must recognise the community dentists treating the most vulnerable in Wales need to be thrown a lifeline. Colleagues are delivering care to patients with complex needs out of premises that are in dire need of upgrades, particularly when it comes to ventilation. 

 

"Yearlong waiting times will remain the norm until we see comprehensive support."