Children are waiting for orthodontic treatment 21 times longer in Pembrokeshire than youngsters in other parts of Wales.
“There are more than 1,500 children waiting for treatment in Hywel Dda compared to just 73 in the Aneurin Bevan Health Board area in Newport – and this is in spite of our health board covering 300,000 fewer people than the south Wales board,” said Mr Hart.
Hywel Dda has the longest waiting list of any area in Wales – the next worst is Cardiff and the Vale Health Board with 1,019 waiting for treatment.
“I have often heard complaints from parents that they routinely have to wait three years for their children to get treated,” said Mr Hart. “It can take more than a year to get assessed and then another two years before treatment starts.”
Mr Hart has been told by local orthodontist David Howells, whose practice provides all the NHS orthodontics in the Hywel Dda area, that the situation is only going to get worse.
“Orthodontists are contracted by the Welsh Assembly Government to provide a certain amount of work under a quota system each year,” explained Mr Hart. “I am told that even if this quota was doubled it would still take five years to clear the backlog in Hywel Dda.
“It is clear to me that orthodontics in Pembrokeshire is in crisis. The Welsh Assembly Government needs to release more funding urgently.”
Editor’s note: FOI replies and briefing note from David Howells below:
The FOI answers reveal big variations in the length of waiting list for orthodontic treatment across Wales.
We asked; “How many patients are currently on the waiting list in your health board area for treatment by orthodontists?”
The biggest waiting list is in Hywel Dda with 1,584 patients. The health board area has a population of 372,320.
The shortest is in Aneurin Bevan with just 73 patients. The area has a population of 639,000
Other results were:
Cardiff and Vale 1,019
Betsi Cadwaladr 769
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg 83. I can send you the FOI answers on request.
David Howells, of Pencastell Orthodontics is the only provider of NHS orthodontics in HDHB area. He tells us that:
*He actually has over 4,000 patients waiting for treatment. More than half of these have been seen at one of the HB's "outreach clinics" for initial assessment and triage.
*His practice's contract is to provide 18,000 Units of Orthodontic Activity (UOA) per year to provide for the entire population of the three counties.
*However he estimates that they are likely to have used up the yearly quota of UOAs after about six months (ie in October).
*As the waiting lists are still growing, it’s self-evident that that the contract volume of 18,000 UOAs is inadequate to meet need.
*Even if the contract volume were to be doubled it will take five years to clear the backlog.
*Hospital-based orthodontic services in Haverfordwest, Aberystwyth, Carmarthen, and Llanelli have all been closed down within the last ten years. None of the considerable resulting savings have been applied to orthodontics
*There is insufficient funding in west Wales to meet the orthodontic needs of the population.
Simon Hart 07801 251750
David Howells : 07595 022 852