Will the Minister make a statement on urgent dental surgery provision in north Wales?
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has commenced a review of urgent and emergency dental provision, with the aim of providing a sustainable and improved service. As part of the process and in considering any change, staff and trade unions are being involved and will be formally consulted.
Thank you, Minister. The Welsh NHS saw the highest ever percentage of patient pathways waiting between 26 and 36 weeks to start treatment for oral surgery in September 2019. This is directly impacting on my constituents, such as one lady who has a seriously decayed tooth causing facial swelling, severe pain and high infection levels. She's already waited 33 weeks for a simple extraction. Numerous appointments for eye surgery that she requires have had to be cancelled because of the lack of oral surgery and given that she's carrying infection. This lady is 83 years old and, as I've said, she's already waited 33 weeks. The Welsh NHS is failing to meet the 26-week target for surgery. So, what assurances will you give me here today that my constituents will not have to wait so many weeks in agonising pain for urgent, urgent oral surgery again? And will you please perhaps, on this occasion, intervene in this case, and let's get this lady's tooth extracted?
As you know, I can't comment on an individual matter, which I'm certain I'm not aware of, but if you do write to me with the details, which I'm sure you will do, I'll happily investigate the matter in order to understand what has happened for your individual constituent.
In terms of the broader challenge about improving performance within the national health service, as you're aware, we've invested £50 million to help improve performance within this year. We currently have about 85 per cent of people being seen within the 26-week target for scheduled care, and you're also aware that there are, of course, a range of factors outside our control, including the direct impact of tax and pension changes. So, the Government continues to invest in the future of improving performance; you've seen performance improve in each of the last three years. I expect to be able to deliver further improvements again, bearing in mind the demands we face and we see coming into our system, and, of course, the challenge in investing across public services.