The crisis in NHS dentistry in North Wales look set to get even worse following the publication of worrying figures. 

Earlier this week the Welsh Government released figures that show 15.3% of dentists in Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board are approaching retirement.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have described NHS dental services in Wales and North Wales particularly as “being on life support” and the British Dental Association warned earlier this week that NHS dentistry in Wales could disappear altogether over the space of months.

The BDA has also warned dentists will leave the profession if the Welsh Labour Government does not improve its plans for the future of NHS dentistry.

Out of a recent survey of 250 high street dentists in Wales, conducted by the BDA, more than a third said they would reduce their NHS contract this year, while 13% said they would hand back their contract entirely by March 2023.

A poll commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has previously shown a staggering 1 in 5 people who had been unable to get an NHS dentist appointment had resorted to ‘DIY dentistry’.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on Labour to raise the spend on NHS dentistry per head to similar levels to Scotland and Northern Ireland.


Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd Member for Mid and West Wales Jane Dodds said: “NHS dentistry in North Wales is on life support and if we aren’t careful we will see it disappear within our lifetimes. My Senedd region covers a large part of Gwynedd and it is clear to me in addition to general challenges faced by dentistry in North Wales, these challenges are even more heightened in rural areas.

“Labour has allowed a two-tier system to develop where those with the money to do so can go private and everyone else is left languishing on a waiting list, often in pain and for months on end.

“We must see dentistry spend rise in Wales to similar levels of that in Northern Ireland and Scotland. We also need to see more dental therapists and nurses trained and to widen the type of work they are allowed to do to help ease pressure on dental practices and clear waiting lists.

“We cannot continue in this direction of travel and Welsh Labour cannot continue to be asleep at the wheel. They must engage constructively with the concerns of dentists over contract reform.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We’ve increased funding for dentistry by more than £27m compared to 2018-19. This includes £2m specifically added in 2022-23 for health boards to address local access issues. In addition we have doubled the number of training places for dental therapy at Cardiff University and a new dental hygiene programme at Bangor University started last September.

“We continue to work with the sector to explore how the reform of the national dental contract can encourage dental practices to collaborate and best respond to the needs of their communities. This has enabled 140,000 patients who have historically not been able to get a dental appointment to receive care this year.

“All Health Boards have arrangements in place to provide emergency dental treatment, advice and support. People seeking treatment should contact the dental helpline or NHS 111 and they will be able to assess whether urgent treatment is needed or whether the patient can be seen at the next earliest opportunity during normal hours.”

Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board was approached for a comment.