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Dentists in Wales report high levels of stress with many facing ‘complete burnout’

28 Apr 2022 3 minute read
Photo Welsh Government

A new survey has recorded high levels of stress among dentists in Wales, with over 70% of those questioned saying they were considering their career options.

The study conducted by the British Dental Association Wales revealed that almost half of Welsh dentists have found the last six months extremely stressful, with many facing ‘complete burnout’.

Overall, 83.1% of respondents reported going to work, despite not feeling mentally well enough and almost half said they had done so for more than 10 days.

Nearly two thirds of dentists said they are considering taking early retirement and 82% said they planned to reduce the hours they work for the NHS over the next three years.

An overwhelming majority of dentists (98%) also reported that an increase in administrative tasks had increased their stress levels.

Last month the BDA Wales called for an increase in funding from the Welsh Government amid accusations of “historic underfunding” compared to the rest of the UK.

Chronic underfunding

Welsh Conservatives also urged the government to introduce a fair funding settlement for NHS dentistry in Wales and claimed that due to chronic underfunding accessing NHS dental treatment is becoming impossible and “waiting lists are exploding”.

Despite an additional £3 million of funding this financial year to provide additional appointments and the offer of a £2 million annual uplift in future, the BDA says few practices have been able to make use of the scheme given the huge increase in demand fuelled by most non-emergency treatments being halted for several months during the Covid pandemic.

Practices are also struggling to recruit new staff and the NHS has lost 8% of its dentists since the start of the pandemic.

Dr Russell Gidney, Chair of the British Dental Association’s Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, told ITV News Wales: “Dentists are working to a system designed to cap patient numbers, with budgets that have failed to keep pace with both rising prices and demand.

“This service needs more than a sticking plaster.

Offers of additional funding with extra demands will simply stretch an exhausted workforce to breaking point.

“For over a decade, dentists have been forced to do more with less – often at the expense of their own well-being.

“Covid needs to mark a turning point. If the Welsh Government fails to support NHS dentistry now the service looks set to wither on the vine.”

Responding to the claims of underfunding, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have provided an extra £3m this year alone for NHS dental services, and an extra £2m a year, each year, to increase people’s access to NHS dental services after a difficult two years.”

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1 year ago

Yes I imagine taking all that private dentistry money and not taking on any NHS patients must be very stressful for them. If only we could have some agreement with lots of nearby countries to allow freedom of movement. Then qualified dentists from overseas could perhaps work here in a nation with skills shortages and a population grateful for their skills. The existing ones might then not be overworked and perhaps would be willing to take on some NHS patients

Last edited 1 year ago by Llinos
1 year ago
Reply to  Llinos

I share your anger. Stress ? Some, maybe, but this is becoming the default excuse for people who are happy taking the money but not putting in the effort. Now the new epidemic among the “professional” classes. Too much has been written over recent years about stress but there is a lack of real diagnosis and there is a new tranche of lead swingers now emerging after the Covid curfew. They are showing a disrespect for those who have experienced real stress from the physical illness, loss of friends and family and the financial hardships that are now piling up.… Read more »

Argol fawr!
Argol fawr!
1 year ago

Really? Pull the other one! Leg not tooth of course.

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