Every month we hear that more people are waiting to start treatment, that only half of life-threatening ambulance calls are reached within 8 minutes, that cancer patients are waiting for treatment, writes Jane Dodds MS.

Despite the hard work of staff, things are only getting harder for our NHS.

One matter that gets very little attention however is the crisis in NHS dentistry.

At the end of September, the number of people waiting for NHS dental treatment in Powys exceeded 5,000, with 4,852 adults were on waiting lists and 314 children.

This comes after the news that 9 providers – almost half of all NHS providers in Powys – returned £241,478.25 to the health board in the last financial year for underperforming against NHS contracts. Two NHS providers also ended their NHS commitment in 2022/2023.


Across the country, thousands of people are being denied NHS dental care. They can’t see an NHS dentist for check-ups where they live, and people with dental emergencies are paying thousands of pounds for treatment, or worse still doing DIY dental work.

What concerns me most is that tooth decay is the largest single reason for operations on children under general anaesthetic in Wales. Up to a third of children in some parts of Wales already have decay before they start primary school. With more than 300 children waiting for treatment in Powys, I am incredibly concerned about the health of those children.

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There is clearly something deeply wrong when thousands of people are waiting for treatment, but dentists are not performing against their own targets.

When I’ve spoken to dentists across the country, they tell me they don’t feel listened to and that Ministers in Cardiff Bay don’t truly understand what’s happening on the ground. This has to change.

We must put power in the hand of health providers to shape local services and meet local demand. What’s worse is the slow action from Labour Ministers in Cardiff Bay.

It is leaving thousands of people in Powys alone on waiting lists for months on end, including hundreds of children whose teeth are still developing.

We need a real concerted effort to save NHS dentistry in Wales and make sure that we can access NHS dental care wherever, whenever we need it.