Outreach orthodontist service planned in Ceredigion

Young people in Ceredigion travelling up to two hours to see an orthodontist could soon be treated closer to home.

Hywel Dda Health Board is looking at introducing an outreach service there.

Ceredigion AM Elin Jones said some were expected to travel to Swansea, 75 miles (120km) away from Aberystwyth, and Carmarthen, 50 miles (80km) away, for specialist dental treatment.

The health board said it understood the concerns of its patients.

Ms Jones and Aberystwyth councillor Paul James have urged health officials to act quickly, adding that children were missing school for appointments.

Ben Reid, 16, from Aberystwyth, has been seeing an orthodontist at Morriston Hospital in Swansea for about 18 months.

His parents do not have a car, so he travels in a taxi paid for by the health service.

‘Serious over-crowding’

Initially, Ben was forced to catch an early bus, and sometimes did not return to Aberystwyth until 22:00 GMT.

He said if his parents came with him it could cost up to £50 for a return journey for them all.

“I’ve got serious (teeth) over-crowding. I will need an operation at the end of next year to reline my jaw.

“It will certainly be more convenient if an outreach service is introduced in Ceredigion.

“I know people who have to travel long distances for treatment. A friend of mine in Machynlleth travels to Carmarthen.”

Taking steps

Ben found it difficult to attend appointments when he was studying for his GCSEs.

“When I was given a taxi to travel to Swansea it was easier and I was able to use a laptop to revise in the back of the taxi,” he said.

Ms Jones recently held talks with Hywel Dda Health Board. She said the lack of orthodontic treatments in Ceredigion was not acceptable.

“During our meeting, the health board outlined how they are taking steps to try and better manage the current waiting list for young patients needing orthodontic treatment,” she said.

“To date, this has included encouraging dentists not to refer patients before they are old enough to begin treatment and advising patients should shorter waiting times be available at alternative treatment centres.”

Dr Sue Fish, medical director at Hywel Dda Health Board, said she understood the concerns of patients and their families around issues of travel, and the time and cost implications.

She said the health board was actively looking at potential solutions to provide orthodontic treatment in Ceredigion, including working with local dentists to develop specialist interests in orthodontics.