Health Minister Eluned Morgan has confirmed a new Dental Academy in the north of Wales could be established before the end of the year.
The minister confirmed the timetable after being quizzed about the state of NHS dental services in the north of Wales by Arfon MS Siân Gwenllian.
Ms Gwenllian says that she is inundated in her day-to-day casework with local adults and children not being able to access dental services and asked the Health Minister for a timeline on the development of the Bangor Dental Academy in her constituency.
In response, the minister said it would be established this autumn, and she hoped the opening would lead to “significant improvements” in patient access “in the near future.”
The Plaid Cymru MS said: “I’m frequently approached by constituents facing a shocking lack of provision in dental services.
“The increasing number who can’t register with an NHS dentist includes children. In the past patients have been willing to travel to access services, nonetheless there are no spaces with dentists across the whole of the north of Wales.
“Waiting lists can vary from between 2 to 5 years. Patients are waiting days on end for emergency appointments. Many call 111 or are given a specific number to dial but they often don’t receive a response.
“Constituents talk of being allocated a phone number, only for them to end up being on hold for up to 3 hours.
“One individual that approached me claims to have dialled a number 200 times, still failing to speak to a staff member.
“I am pleased that there is some light at the end of the tunnel for these patients, with talk of a Bangor Dental Academy opening in Autumn of 2022, but the situation is pressing and urgent action is needed to address the current lack of provision.”
In response to Siân Gwenllian’s intervention on the floor of the Senedd, Eluned Morgan said that Covid continued to put a strain on the services, but that the opening of the new academy would ease pressures.
“We’re still in a situation where COVID has affected services. We were down to 50 per cent until very recently, we’re now back up to about 80 per cent, and, of course, a lot of people want to see a dentist after waiting for so long.
“In terms of the new academy, I’m very pleased that the new academy will open in Bangor in the autumn of this year, and once it’s fully established, we would expect to see access for 12,000 to 15,000 people.
“That will be open six days a week. So, that will make a significant difference.
“But in the short term, the health board has created more access for people who find themselves in an urgent situation, and they have created access for those who find themselves without a dentist in the case of an emergency.”
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