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Morgan: Labour has failed Welsh NHS dental patients

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"This is the first occasion in almost seven years, since the advent of devolution, that we have had the opportunity for debating dentistry in a motion proposed by the Government. The only other opportunity was a motion proposed as a minority party debate by Plaid Cymru.

This is absolutely shocking when you consider the parlous state of affairs faced by dentists and patients the length and breadth of Wales. It shows the real lack of political priority that the Labour Assembly Government has chosen to place on this crucial part of NHS service delivery. It is disgraceful that it is only now, as we approach the end of the Assembly's second term of office, that the Government has decided to debate this very important matter.

We look forward to supporting every amendment, and I look forward to Labour Party support for amendment 4 in the name of Lisa Francis, which endorses the Prime Minister's view that everyone should have access to an NHS dentist. I look forward to the Labour Party reconfirming the commitment made in its manifesto. I look forward to at least one of our amendments being carried this afternoon.

This issue is about access. It is clear that in recent years many dentists have left the NHS and gone into private practice, and that many dentists have deregistered NHS patients. The figures show that between 1997 and 2005, there was a 12.1 per cent reduction in the number of patients registered with an NHS dentist in Wales—that is a difference of almost 196,000 people.

The Minister has referred to the PDS scheme, and in a letter to one dentist he stated that 62 schemes had provided almost an additional 60,000 patients. At that rate, if repeated every year, it would take at least another three years for the Assembly Government to return to the level in 1997 when Tony Blair became Prime Minister. This is not an issue with which the Labour Party can be satisfied, nor of which it can be proud.

The figures are stark when you consider the child population. In 1996, 65 per cent of the children of Wales were registered with an NHS dentist. The figure is now below 60 per cent. When you consider the increased levels of tooth decay, particularly among eight to 11-year-olds, it is a massive problem. If we do not resolve this problem, it will store up a huge number of difficulties for those people in decades to come.

The Minister states that the new contract is the solution to every problem. The British Dental Association, as it happens, does not agree with him. Many dentists believe that this contract will be quite difficult to run from an administrative and bureaucratic point of view.

Many have told me that they are worried about the administrative pressures that will be placed on them as a result of this contract and that many dentists could be pushed into leaving the NHS for the private sector and schemes such as Denplan, which apparently do all of the administration work for them. Therefore, unless we make it easy for NHS dentists to continue operating under and within the NHS, many will simply leave the NHS and practise in the private sector. We cannot afford to lose NHS dentists, particularly when 22 per cent of dentists in Wales are aged between 50 and 59.

There is a recruitment time bomb on the horizon, which I do not believe the Minister is aware of or, if he is aware of it, he is not willing to do anything about it. We have a fundamental problem with recruitment and, as a result, we could lose large numbers of dentists, either because of their age bracket—they may want to retire—or because they are sick and tired of the NHS and will go and practise in the private sector.

What concerns me about this more than anything is the lack of aspiration from the Labour Assembly Government. Normally these sorts of things are accompanied by a glossy strategy. I am quite sad that we do not have a glossy strategy on this occasion because no-one seems to know what the Minister's aspirations are.

We know what the situation is at the moment, but how many new NHS patients over the next five to 10 years do you want to see with an NHS dentist in Wales? How many more dentists do you think need to be operating within the NHS to get us back to an appropriate level? How many of you support the view of the Prime Minister, who believes in access for all?

I do not believe that we have seen aspiration from the Assembly Government in terms of dentistry. We know what it is trying to do with the contract but nowhere has it set out any ambition whatsoever for NHS dentistry. Given what it said in its manifesto for the Assembly elections, it will not be fulfilling its promises."

"Dyma'r tro cyntaf mewn bron i saith mlynedd, ers dyfodiad datganoli, yr ydym wedi cael y cyfle i drafod deintyddiaeth mewn cynnig a gynigiwyd gan y Llywodraeth. Yr unig gyfle arall oedd cynnig a gynigiwyd fel dadl gan blaid leiafrifol a gyflwynwyd gan Blaid Cymru.

Mae hyn yn gwbl warthus o ystyried y sefyllfa enbyd sy'n wynebu deintyddion a chleifion ar hyd ac ar led Cymru. Mae'n dangos y diffyg blaenoriaeth wleidyddol wirioneddol y mae Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru wedi dewis ei rhoi i'r rhan hanfodol hon o gyflenwi gwasanaethau GIG. Mae'n gywilyddus mai dim ond yn awr, wrth inni nesau at ddiwedd ail dymor gwasanaeth y Cynulliad, y mae'r Llywodraeth wedi penderfynu trafod y mater hynod bwysig hwn.

Edrychwn ymlaen at gefnogi pob gwelliant, ac edrychaf ymlaen at gefnogaeth y Blaid Lafur i welliant 4 yn enw Lisa Francis, sy'n cefnogi barn y Prif Weinidog y dylai pawb allu cyrchu at ddeintydd GIG. Edrychaf ymlaen at weld y Blaid Lafur yn ailgadarnhau'r ymrwymiad yn ei maniffesto. Edrychaf ymlaen at weld o leiaf un o'n gwelliannau yn cael ei basio y prynhawn yma.

Mater yn ymwneud â mynediad yw hwn. Mae'n amlwg fod llawer o ddeintyddion wedi gadael y GIG ac wedi mynd i bractis preifat dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf, a bod llawer o ddeintyddion wedi datgofrestru cleifion GIG. Dengys y ffigurau y bu gostyngiad o 12.1 y cant yn nifer y cleifion sy'n gofrestredig gyda deintydd GIG yng Nghymru rhwng 1997 a 2005—mae hynny'n wahaniaeth o bron i 196,000 o bobl.

Mae'r Gweinidog wedi cyfeirio at y cynllun gwasanaethau deintyddol personol, ac mewn llythyr at un deintydd dywed bod 62 o gynlluniau wedi darparu bron i 60,000 o gleifion ychwanegol. Ar y gyfradd honno, pe câi ei hailadrodd bob blwyddyn, byddai'n cymryd o leiaf dair blynedd i Lywodraeth y Cynulliad ddychwelyd i'r lefel yn 1997 pan ddaeth Tony Blair yn Brif Weinidog. Nid yw hwn yn fater y gall y Blaid Lafur fod yn fodlon ag ef, ac ni all ymfalchïo ynddo ychwaith.

Mae'r ffigurau'n llwm pan ystyriwch chi'r boblogaeth plant. Yn 1996, yr oedd 65 y cant o blant Cymru wedi eu cofrestru gyda deintydd GIG. Mae'r ffigur hwnnw yn is na 60 y cant erbyn hyn.

Pan ystyriwch y lefelau uwch o bydredd dannedd, yn enwedig ymysg plant wyth i 11 oed, mae'n broblem aruthrol. Os na wnawn ni ddatrys y broblem hon, bydd yn storio nifer enfawr o anawsterau i'r bobl hynny yn y degawdau i ddod.

Dywed y Gweinidog mai'r contract newydd yw'r ateb i bob problem. Nid yw Cymdeithas Ddeintyddol Prydain, fel y mae'n digwydd, yn cytuno ag ef. Cred llawer o ddeintyddion y bydd y contract hwn yn bur anodd i'w redeg o safbwynt gweinyddol a biwrocrataidd. Mae llawer wedi dweud wrthyf eu bod yn poeni am y pwysau gweinyddol a roddir arnynt o ganlyniad i'r contract hwn ac y gallai llawer o ddeintyddion gael eu gwthio i adael y GIG a throi at y sector preifat a chynlluniau megis Denplan, sydd yn ôl pob tebyg yn gwneud y gwaith gweinyddol i gyd ar eu rhan.

Felly, oni bai ein bod yn ei gwneud yn hawdd i ddeintyddion GIG barhau i weithredu o dan ac o fewn y GIG, bydd llawer yn ymadael â'r GIG ac yn ymarfer yn y sector preifat. Ni allwn fforddio colli deintyddion GIG, yn enwedig pan fo 22 y cant o ddeintyddion Cymru rhwng 50 a 59 oed.

Mae bom amser recriwtio ar y gorwel, na chredaf fod y Gweinidog yn ymwybodol ohono neu, os yw'n ymwybodol ohono, nid yw'n barod i wneud dim amdano. Mae gennym broblem recriwtio sylfaenol ac, o ganlyniad, gallem golli nifer fawr o ddeintyddion, un ai oherwydd eu hoedran—efallai y byddant am ymddeol—neu am eu bod wedi hen flino ac y GIG ac y byddant yn mynd i ymarfer yn y sector preifat.

Yr hyn sy'n fy mhryderu am hyn yn fwy na dim yw'r diffyg dyhead o du Llywodraeth Lafur y Cynulliad. Fel arfer gyda'r mathau hyn o bethau ceir strategaeth sgleiniog. Yr wyf yn reit drist nad oes gennym strategaeth sgleiniog ar yr achlysur hwn oherwydd nid oes neb yn gwybod yn ôl pob golwg beth yw dyheadau'r Gweinidog.

Gwyddom beth yw'r sefyllfa ar hyn o bryd, ond faint o gleifion GIG newydd dros y pump neu'r 10 mlynedd nesaf ydych chi am eu gweld â deintydd GIG yng Nghymru? Faint yn rhagor o ddeintyddion gredwch chi y mae angen eu gweld yn gweithio yn y GIG er mwyn dod â ni'n ôl i lefel briodol? Faint ohonoch chi sy'n cefnogi barn y Prif Weinidog, sy'n credu mewn mynediad i bawb?

Ni chredaf ein bod wedi gweld dyhead o du Llywodraeth y Cynulliad o ran deintyddiaeth. Gwyddom beth y mae'n ceisio ei wneud gyda'r contract ond nid yw yn unman wedi nodi unrhyw uchelgais o gwbl o ran deintyddiaeth GIG.

O gofio'r hyn a ddywedodd yn ei maniffesto ar gyfer etholiadau'r Cynulliad, ni fydd yn cyflawni ei haddewidion."

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