Following on from the Fifth Senedd Health, Social Care and Sport Committee’s May 2019 report, A Fresh Start: Inquiry into dentistry in Wales, the Sixth Senedd Health and Social Care Committee undertook an inquiry into dentistry to see whether the Welsh Government is doing enough to bridge the gap in oral health inequalities and rebuild dentistry in Wales following the COVID-19 pandemic and in the context of rising costs of living.


On 15 February 2023, the Health and Social Care Committee published its report, which includes recommendations to the Welsh Government.


The Welsh Government responded to our report on 18 April 2023. A Plenary debate was held on 21 June 2023.


Information about the Committee’s inquiry


The Committee’s inquiry considered in particular:


>>> The extent to which access to NHS dentistry continues to be limited and how best to catch up with the backlog in primary dental care, hospital and orthodontic services.

>>> Improved oral health intelligence, including the uptake of NHS primary dental care across Wales following the resumption of services, and the need for a government funded campaign to reassure the public that dental practices are safe environments.

>>> Incentives to recruit and retain NHS dentists, particularly in rural areas and areas with high levels of need.

>>> Oral health inequalities, including restarting the Designed to Smile programme and scope for expanding it to 6-10 year olds; improved understanding of the oral health needs of people aged 12-21; the capacity of dental domiciliary services for older people and those living in care homes (the ‘Gwên am Byth’ programme); and the extent to which patients (particularly low risk patients) are opting to see private practitioners, and whether there is a risk of creating a two-tiered dental health service. Workforce well-being and morale.

>>> The scope for further expansion of the Community Dental Service.

>>> Welsh Government spend on NHS dentistry in Wales, including investment in ventilation and future-proofing practices.

>>> The impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the provision of and access to dentistry services in Wales.



To explore these issues, the Committee



>>> Issued a written call for evidence between 12 July 2022 and 16 September 2022. We received 21 responses.

>>> In August and September 2022, the Senedd's Citizen Engagement Team conducted interviews with people across Wales about their experiences of dentistry issues.

>>> Held oral evidence sessions with key stakeholders on 13 October 2022, 19 October 2022 and 17 November 2022.

>>> Held an oral evidence session with the Minister for Health and Social Services and the Chief Dental Officer for Wales on 17 November 2023.

>>> Published a report and accompanying media release on 15 February 2023.

>>> Ahead of the Plenary debate, we wrote to the Minister for Health and Social Services with some points of clarification. The Minister responded on 11 July 2023.

Business type: Committee Inquiry

Reason considered: Senedd Business;

First published: 12/07/2022