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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 May, 2004, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Dentist returns to save the day
Dentist and patient
Dr Gaurav Vij was Machynlleth's dentist for just over 18 months
A dentist is returning to work in a mid Wales town, saving more than 2,000 people from a 170-mile trek for a check-up.

Powys Local Health Board has confirmed that Dr Rudi Botha - who had previously worked in Powys but left in 2001 to set up a practice in Norfolk - will return this week to fill the gap.

Patients were told in February that their current NHS dentist - Dr Gaurav Vij - was quitting the historic town's only NHS practice - leaving them with the prospect of a lengthy journey to the nearest one.

I'm delighted someone has been found to replace Dr Vij because people would have faced a huge journey to the nearest NHS dentist.
John Howard, Montgomeryshire Community Health Council

Montgomeryshire Community Health Council's chief officer John Howard said: "I'm delighted someone has been found to replace Dr Vij because people would have faced a huge journey to the nearest NHS dentist.

"However, the problem of a lack of dentists in Wales remains a major issue and we're faced with another problem in Llanidloes as its NHS dentist is set to retire soon."

A spokesman for Machynlleth Town Council said patients in the town were delighted.

"Everyone that I have spoken to is very pleased to hear the news," he said. "The only thing that I don't really understand is why people have to re-register on the list when they could just be transferred."

A spokesman for Powys Local Health Board said patients could register at Machynlleth's community centre.

"Dr Botha will be returning to Machynlleth from Norfolk after three years," he said. "The practice will officially open on Monday, 17 May."

Gaurav Vij, who ran the practice from Machynlleth Health Centre from September 2002, left to return to his native Ireland earlier this month.

Dentist queue
More than 600 people queued to get on a NHS dentist list at Carmarthen

It took 15 months to replace the last dentist who left the town and news of Mr Vij's departure had raised fears about how long it would take for another dentist to set up.

In the meantime, people in the town had to choose between going private or making a 170-mile round-trip to the nearest NHS dentists in Crickhowell and Ystradgynlais.

Machynlleth was the latest in a long line to fall victim to a lack of dentists - particularly in rural Wales - which resulted in the Welsh Assembly Government offering 50,000 ' golden hellos' as an incentive to set up practices.

What happened to NHS dentistry?
19 Feb 04  |  Magazine
Hundreds queue for NHS dentists
16 Feb 04  |  North Yorkshire

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