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  1. ITV Report

NHS dentists 'discouraged' from working in poorer areas

Credit: PA Images

NHS dentists in Wales are being discouraged from working in poorer areas because of the way they are paid.

Under the NHS Dental Services Contract, started in 2006 in Wales, dentists are paid an annual amount for work which is broken down into units of dental activity.

The payment is the same whether a dentists does one or more similar procedures.

This means there is no incentive to take on high needs patients as they would be paid the same amount for doing more work.

This is a particular problem in areas of deprivation where poorer access to dental services already exists.

An inquiry by the National Assembly’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee found replacing the contract targets with a new system would be better for patients and dentists and boost morale for dentists.

The current NHS contract arrangements for dentists simply aren’t working.

Paying someone the same amount to deliver a course of treatment on a patient regardless of the amount of work involved makes little sense.

Therefore this Committee believes it is time to end the current arrangements and find a new way of making sure everyone in Wales has access to quality dental services regardless of where they are.

– Dai Lloyd AM, Chair of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee

The Committee also looked at waiting times for orthodontic treatment and ways of improving these.

Progress with the Welsh Government’s Designed to Smile programme was welcomed but the Committee would like to see the oral health programme extended to older children.

The Welsh Government is considering the report.