A concerning number of dentists are accepting new patients, with only 37% of NHS dentists in Wales doing so. This figure has served as a wakeup call for the Welsh government, who have decided to set itself ambitious targets to increase access to NHS dentists for those struggling to get appointments. It has also been pointed out that of those dentists that are actually accepting new patients into their surgeries; almost two thirds have long waiting lists for those patients to be seen.
Private dental practices offering their services to those with dental insurance are not having the same difficulties as the NHS, with 70% of those practices accepting new patients into their fold.
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams, has come out saying that something needs to be done about these statistics. The Welsh Labour Government has set a target of the end of the current assembly in 2016 for all NHS dentists to be accepting new patients. The report, produced by the Welsh Lib Dem party, has highlighted that dentistry is something that has been overlooked in Wales and is now facing considerable problems because of this.
They are planning on monitoring the current governments commitment to working on the level of NHS dental services very closely, making sure they are keeping to what they have said and holding them fully responsible.
Across the UK as a whole, figures in the GP Patient Survey from the Department of Health, carried out last year, painted a more promising picture. It showed that 59% of patients have tried to get an appointment with an NHS dentist in the last two years and of those people, 92% were successful and overall 83% of NHS patients were pleased with the service they received.