A POLITICIAN is calling for “urgent” action after revealing children are currently unable to access an NHS dentist in Arfon.

Siân Gwenllian has called on Welsh Labour Government Health Minister Vaughan Gething to ‘step-in as a matter of urgency’ after a report by the British Dental Association (Wales) showed there were no practices in the area accepting NHS children and young people with learning disabilities.

The Plaid Cymru politician says she has been contacted by many of her constituents concerned at their inability to access NHS dental care.

Of the six dental practices operating in Arfon, none are currently accepting NHS adults or accepting NHS children, whilst three of the six practices are accepting private patients.

She says it is due to the way the current dental contract caps NHS patient numbers and cites figures that reveal across the whole of Wales, only one in five dental practices can take on new adult patients with only one in four is taking on children on the NHS.

She said: “These are extremely alarming findings and reinforce the concerns already being conveyed to me by my local constituents who are finding it impossible to access a dentist on the NHS.

“I am getting letters from local people who are at a loss to know where they can get access to NHS dentistry.’

“I am particularly alarmed to hear that children and young people with learning disabilities are being shut out from accessing dental care.

“This could have serious and life-long implications on children’s oral health. The human cost of this crisis is huge.

“We should also be looking at training dentists locally as a long-term solution to the crisis, to be developed on the back of the medical training that is due to commence in Bangor later this year.’

“Local people have already paid for NHS dentistry through their taxes - it is high-time that they should be able to get what they have paid for.’

Chair of the BDA’s Welsh General Dental Practice Committee Tom Bysouth said: “The fact that not one practice in Arfon can take on new child NHS patients is a damning indictment of a failed system.

“For local families NHS dentistry is now just a nice idea rather than a reality they can depend on.

“Dentists are working under a broken contract that’s fuelled a recruitment and retention crisis, and left patients facing epic journeys to access care.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “It’s disappointing that BDA Wales fail to recognise the significant changes we are making as part of our on-going dental contract reforms.

There are over 35,000 more NHS patients regularly receiving NHS dental care than 5 years ago.

“However, we acknowledge there are areas where access remains difficult and are working to reach a position where everyone in Wales who wants access to NHS dental care can get it,” the spokesperson added.