DENTAL and optometry practices across Wales are gradually reintroducing a broader range of services as part of the phased recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike in England, many dental practices in Wales have remained open during the pandemic to provide emergency care.

More than 16,500 patients have been seen in-practice by dentists in Wales since mid-March, with a further 180,000 patients being assessed remotely by phone or video.

Eighty-seven of Wales’ 400 optometry practices have also kept their doors open, providing urgent and essential eye care to more than 19,000 patients.

Optometry and dental practices have been able to increase service provision from June 22. Further services will be gradually reinstated.

Those who have experienced serious problems during the lockdown period, and those with urgent care needs, will be prioritised.

Patients should not expect business as usual however, as it is likely to be some time before the full range of services will be reintroduced. Due to the need for social distancing and infection control, practices will also operate well below previous capacity during this phase.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Restoring services is a complex process. We have kept the situation under review throughout the pandemic and ensured continued access to emergency care for those who have needed it.

"Now that the level of coronavirus in our communities is stabilising, we can restart some non-urgent services in a cautious and phased way.

"We are working closely with the relevant professional bodies and are confident that Wales’ dentists and optometrists will continue to follow strict measures, including social distancing, to protect staff and patients.”

At the Welsh Government's coronavirus briefing today, Mr Gething said routine appointments were still not confirmed as being available. 

He said that work had been made to get the sector into the 'amber' phase, but that there were still work to be done.

Mr Gething also slammed the Prime Minister's 'new deal' statement made earlier on Monday as a 'no deal'.

"I think it would be helpful if the UK government gave a clearer signal," he said.

"It's a classic challenge of unpicking the rhetoric from reality. It's not so much a new deal as no deal.

"We don't recognise there is a single extra penny for Wales, it's just a reorganising of funding.
"The trust in what we say really matters.

"The PM must look again at what he's promised. It's not an act of generosity, it's already included in our budget."