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New figures reveal big jump in extra dental appointments since new contacts were introduced in April

06 Jan 2023 3 minute read
Photo Rui Vieira. PA Images

New figures released by the Welsh Government have revealed that 109,000 additional dental appointments have been created in the last nine months.

Changes to NHS dentistry contracts, offered to practices since last April, include a requirement for NHS practices to see new patients.

The Welsh Government says it expects an estimated 112,000 new NHS patient appointments will be achievable in the current financial year.

However, the Chief Dental Officer for Wales has warned that missed appointments are impacting on people who need dental treatment the most.

Andrew Dickenson has asked patients to avoid missing appointments where possible or notify their practice in advance when they are unable to attend.

According to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), 9.4% of all NHS scheduled appointments last year were lost due to patient non-attendance, the equivalent of 3.5 hours of clinical time each week for every practice.

Eluned Morgan, the Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “We want everyone in Wales to be able to access NHS dental care, if they want it.

“From this year, we’re providing an additional £2 million a year to support increasing access to dental services throughout Wales.

“I’m really pleased that we’ve already broken the 100,000 extra appointments barrier this year, which shows that our reforms, made in partnership with the industry, are resulting in clear positive outcomes for patients.”

Progress

Andrew Dickenson added: “We’ve made great progress since our reforms to NHS dental contract. 78% of practices have by now signed up to the contract variation, which is really bearing fruit in terms of new patient appointments.

“But missed appointments continue to be a real issue, adding up to the equivalent in clinical time of losing 20 full time dentists a year.

“It’s understandable that things come up, meaning people can’t always keep appointments. But my key message is – please “cancel, don’t break” appointments – contact your practice as soon as you know you can’t attend. That way practices can make time for other patients, enabling even more people to get speedier access to dental treatment.”

Shake-up

Dentists criticised last year’s shake-up which saw patients move to yearly check-ups, rejecting claims it will free up more appointments.

Andrew Dickenson said scrapping the “outdated” practice of recalling people for check-ups every six months would allow practices across Wales to see up to 112,000 new patients a year.

The voluntary changes were introduced by the Welsh Government by varying the current Units of Dental Activity (UDA) contract system which has been used in England and Wales since 2006 and was deemed “unfit for purpose” by the UK Government’s Health Select Committee.

Children and young people under 18 will continue to be offered check-ups every six months.

More than two-thirds (78%) of all NHS dental practices voluntarily signed up to the changes, and were therefore been given a small target of “new patients” to see.

They are required to open up slots for new patients, which are defined as people who have not yet registered with a dentist, and those who are registered but have not been seen by their dentist in more than four years.


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hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Regardless of the platitudes on offer the truth is that Government is complicit in shifting the entire service into the private sector. All the gibberish about “a more healthy nation” is just posturing. Health and related services are being rationed increasingly and ability to pay has become the primary determinant of whether or not one obtains service.

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