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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Dental crisis: Your views
Queues of around 600 formed in Carmarthen
Carmarthen: Places were allocated on first-come-first-served basis
The dire lack of NHS dentists has been brought sharply into focus in west Wales this week.

On Monday around 600 people queued to try to get on the books of a dentist who said he was taking on 300 patients at his Brynteg Surgery in Carmarthen.

Numbered tickets were issued to the first 300 in the queue and the rest were turned away.

Now the police have been called in after staff at the surgery received abusive calls from disgruntled would-be patients.

The problem is by no means isolated to rural west Wales, as similar scenes have been played around elsewhere in the UK.

There are calls for more to be done to attract dentists from the private sector but many practitioners feel they are "overworked and underpaid" in the NHS.

So what's the solution?

Should everyone have the choice of treatment by an NHS dentist?

Moved house, phoned NHS direct - no NHS or private dentists taking children or adult patients in my area. Finally after a year local NHS dentist said they would take us only if we paid 40 registration fee, that included paying for my children. Having paid all National Insurance contributions,taxes etc. if the NHS was Marks and Spencers would we all be asking for a refund?
Heather, UK

I pay taxes - lots of taxes under this government. I pay National Insurance - just increased by this government. I therefore pay for the health service. Ergo I'm entitled to an NHS dentist. Or rather I'm not, apparently. How does that work then?If I'm being forced to pay for something I'm ultimately being denied, isn't that extortion?
Chris, England.

I have recently moved to a new area and went in search of a dentist. I have been told repeatedly that I will have to join a 3 month waiting list and it's going to cost me 50 for a check up. I think I'll wait for the tooth ache.
Toby Josham, UK

I think that its disgraceful people are having difficulties finding NHS dentists! What's happened to the welfare state? It was supposedly for all, it seems dentists are only catering for the well heeled who can afford private charges.
Antony Forst, England

Labour keep saying that they will plough more of our tax and NI money into health. It time for them to put our money where our mouths are!
CJ Hendrick, UK

I have just three small letters to add to the debate. NIC (National Insurance contributions). Enough said, in my opinion.
Max, UK

Where did these 600 people come from, if they'd kept up their regular check ups surely they would have been registered with an NHS dentist already, or would have had good teeth and be able to go to Denplan with their dentist without having to pay the earth.
Steve Jones, N Wales

It is the National Health Service, which means it should be national. I left the RAF 9 years ago and have failed to register with an NHS dentist in all that time. Labour, if I recall, promised that everyone in the UK would have access to an NHS dentist. NI payments have gone up but the quality (and quantity) of service has seriously reduced. The reign of Elizabeth II will be remembered for the people having the teeth of Elizabeth I. Many are unable to afford a visit to a private dentist. Teeth will rot. They will be unable to take out insurance because the insurance Co insist that a full check-up is carried out and all work is completed before the insurance policy can be started. Is this a new angle on political spin?
Jason, UK

My understanding of the British health system is that it was designed to allow anyone, even the poorest, to receive dental and medical treatment, regardless of income. While this may be the spirit of the NHS, I believe that the government simply hasn't got the funding to provide for everyone. Perhaps a cut-off on income level would force more well-off people to go private, freeing up slots for those who simply cannot afford to go private.
Beth, American in Britain

Dentist shortage - hundreds queue
28 Jul 03  |  South West Wales

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