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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 06:49 GMT
Dentists 'stressed to limit'
Dentists
The report calls for an extra 40 dentists in Wales
Dentists in Wales are "stretched and stressed to the limit" according to the British Dental Association (BDA).

It reports a shortage of staff means many parts of the country have little or no access to NHS dentists.

The news comes on the day the Duke of Edinburgh opened a refurbished dental school in Cardiff.

The BDA estimates an extra 40 dentists are needed across Wales.

With a third of dentists due to reach retirement age in the next five years, the association fears the crisis in the profession could worsen.

In the last four years, the school of dentistry at Cardiff University has had an 11m facelift and is now home to some of the most advanced equipment available.

Fifty-five students a year are currently trained at the school - plans to increase this to 70 are currently with the Welsh Assembly.

"The sooner we expand the better," said Professor Malcolm Jones.

"There is a great shortage of dentists in Wales - particularly in mid and north Wales - and it will take many years to catch up," he added.

Campaign

In its report, called Improving the oral health of Wales, the BDA said the current problems faced by the service can be traced back to a recent lack of investment in NHS dentistry.

Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Phillip officially opened the new school

Investment in training dentists in Wales has remained static since 1994 - whereas medicine, nursing and healthcare have all seen growth.

Wales is currently 40 dentists short of the staffing levels in Scotland, which are seen as the benchmark.

In February, a pensioner from west Wales who pulled a painful tooth out with a nutcracker mounted a campaign about a lack of NHS dental care in the area.

Seventy-one-year-old Connie Humphrys, from St Dogmaels near Cardigan, said she did not want to undertake a 90-mile round trip for NHS treatment and decided to perform the extraction herself.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Wales' Sian Lloyd
"Many parts of Wales have little or no access to NHS dentists"



SEE ALSO:
'Shame' of NHS dental provision
03 Jan 02 |  Health


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