Welsh Government's creative accounting does not equal new investment
Money pledged to expand dental services in Wales represents just a quarter of the sum taken out of dental budget each year, says the British Dental Association (BDA).
Figures obtained by the BDA show that £6.6m was taken out of the dental budget in 2016, as a result of NHS dentists not hitting the tough targets set by government in their contracts. This money, known as 'clawback', is not reallocated to NHS dental services in Wales.
The Welsh Government has announced it will commit £1.3m to fund the expanded dental services. Undisclosed sums have been allocated to strengthen paediatric services.
While the BDA welcomes extra investment in dental services, particularly those geared towards children, it has insisted that all clawback money be ring-fenced to support oral health services. Despite the progress secured through initiatives like Designed to Smile, tooth decay remains the leading reason for child hospital admissions in Wales.
Katrina Clarke, chair of the BDA's Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, said, "Year in, year out, money allocated to NHS dentistry has been used to balance the Welsh Government's books. While we welcome commitments to spend the dental budget on dentistry, this money represents just a quarter of what's been taken out of the system each year.
"Creative accounting does not constitute new investment. The best thing the Welsh Government could do is commit to ensure all money set aside for dentistry is actually spent on improving the oral health of children and adults in Wales."