Following a report released by the Welsh Liberal Democrats showing that only 37% of dentists in Wales are accepting new NHS patients, the First Minister has said he will set his Government a 100% target by 2016.
When Labour introduced the new dental contract in 2006, Rhodri Morgan, the then First Minister, told the Assembly that everyone who needed access to an NHS dentist would get it. I asked in First Minister’s Questions for clarification on whether 100% was the Welsh Labour Government’s target by the end of this Assembly. The First Minister confirmed this would be the case.
Labour’s Programme for Government document stated that the intention was to improve access to dentists and to increase the percentage of the population with an NHS dentist. However, the document failed to include any sort of concrete figures for these targets.
The startling statistics produced in the Welsh Liberal Democrat report indicates that dentistry in Wales has often been overlooked by the Welsh Government in recent years, with the findings confirming there are still considerable problems facing the service. It is unacceptable that only 37% of dentists are accepting new NHS patients. It is for this reason that I am pleased the Welsh Liberal Democrats have succeeded in compelling the First Minister to set his Government a 100% access target by the end of this Assembly. The Welsh Liberal Democrats will ensure that the Welsh Labour Government will be held to account so it will not be allowed to continue to overlook this vital NHS service.