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West Wales patients' 'long wait' for hospital dentists

22 December 09 15:29 GMT

A senior surgeon says west Wales patients needing hospital dental work face long waits and a lack of funding.

It follows the case of John Laverack, from Carmarthenshire, who has to be seen in a hospital, but has been waiting over a year for two fillings.

He is among over 200 patients on a waiting list, most from the Hywel Dda Health Board area, covering Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

The board said it had earmarked £300k for restorative dentistry this year.

Mr Laverack has a compromised immune system and needs to be seen in hospital for basic dental care.

He told BBC Wales Today: "They won't even give me a scrape and polish in the local dental practice, they say that even that must be done in a hospital situation.

"So basically I have no dental care.

"If the hospital's not doing it, the local dentist's not doing it, where does someone like me go?"

He is waiting for treatment at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, and an investigation by Wales Today revealed he was not alone.

Keith Silvester, a senior surgeon at Morriston, said there were more than 200 patients on his waiting list and some had been there more than two years.

But Mr Silvester said the board "have never paid us to treat their patients.

"We have never received any funding from Hywel Dda for that purpose."

He also criticised Welsh Assembly Government targets as "selective" and waiting lists as "misleading".

The assembly government sets national targets for patients to be seen by a consultant within 26 weeks, but there are no targets for when a patient is treated.

Mr Silvester added: "If the assembly only asks for certain figures then that's what they'll get.

"There is a tendency for trusts to treat those patients that are targets in priority to those that are not targets."

In a statement the Hywel Dda Health Board said it was "working towards a long-term solution."

It added: "The creation of a new NHS structure presents an opportunity to provide a more seamless service to patients like Mr Laverack."

Since Wales Today began its investigatiom Mr Laverack has been offered an appointment for treatment.

Asked about Mr Silvester's comment, the assembly government said: "It is expected the majority of patients will have a treatment plan agreed at their first appointment.

"We wouldn't expect patients to be kept waiting for long periods of time."

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