MORE NHS dentists could be found for across the Hywel Dda University Health Board region.

Over the last year, a number of practices across the region have handed back their NHS dental contracts including in Carmarthen, Whitland, Llandeilo and Cross Hands, leading to concern about the dental crisis.

Adam Price, MS for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr stated that ‘time was running out’ to solve the dental waiting list crisis and asked whether the Welsh Government’s ‘central register’ had been finalised. He said: “Does the minister accept that the fact that all of these dental surgeries have ceased their NHS service means that it’ll make it even more difficult to attract people to tender for a new contract because of the shortage of provision? Do you have the data now? You mentioned that you hoped to have a central register at a national level-do you have that data, which can focus on what is happening on the ground?

“And if it does confirm what dentists and service users are saying locally, that there is a crisis, would you be willing to meet the elected members and the health board in the area to find a solution?”

Health minister Eluned Morgan accepted that Hywel Dda is one of the health boards with a number of contracts handed back – totalling seven – but she provided good news that they had re-tendered four contracts and there is interest for others across the three counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

Ms Morgan said: “Well, I do accept that certain areas of Wales have handed back more contracts than others – Hywel Dda is one of those areas, where seven contracts have been handed back. And what happens then is that we go back out to re-contract, and what I am pleased to announce is that four contracts have already been issued and that there is interest for Cross Hands, Llandeilo, south Ceredigion and north Pembrokeshire too.

“So that process of finding new contractors is already under way and there is interest. And what has happened is that there are three contracts that have now been handed back – Carmarthen, Whitland and Haverfordwest – and they will cease providing the service by the end of the year.

“But what we have said is that that central register must be in place by the end of the year. We haven’t reached the end of the year as of yet, so I do very much hope that we will be able to look at those details by the end of the year. And, of course, you will be aware that we also provided an additional £5,000 to encourage people to train in rural areas.”