Simon Hart MP has been told that NHS dental provision in South Pembrokeshire is likely to be increased – and a new NHS dental practice could be set up in Tenby.
He won an assurance that the dental care given by Narberth's NHS dentist will continue – and there is also a strong possibility that the hours could be increased and provision moved elsewhere in South Pembrokeshire.
Worried constituents had contacted Mr Hart following the death of popular Narberth dentist Huw "the tooth" Jones.
"I had a number of people contact me because they were worried that that the dentist who has taken over from Huw is only on a temporary contract until the end of March and they know how impossible it would be to find a new NHS dentist if the contract was withdrawn," Mr Hart explained.
"Over the past few years the lack of an NHS dentist in Tenby is something that I have also had frequent complaints about."
Mr Hart wrote to Hywel Dda Health Board asking them to make the Narberth arrangement a permanent contract.
"I know that many of Mr Jones' former patients are very concerned that the Narberth surgery will become a private practice and they will have to travel a long way to find an alternative," he wrote.
"Are you able to give me any reassurance about the future of NHS dental provision in Narberth? If it does leave the NHS then where is the next nearest NHS dentist for the patients listed there?"
Bryan Beardsworth, Assistant Head of Primary Care replied that the hours provided by the temporary contract in Narberth would definitely be retained – but not necessarily in Narberth itself.
"I am pleased to give you absolute assurance that the levels of activity the late Dr. Jones provided, will be commissioned in the near future and temporary services maintained until this happens," he wrote.
"As part of the commissioning process, we hope to increase the levels of activity in South Pembrokeshire, which will allow a greater number of patients to access services.
"I am unable to confirm the new provider will specifically be located in Narberth, as this will be determined by the tender process, in which weighting will be given for accessibility (for example by public transport). However, I can confirm the tender will only be awarded in the South Pembrokeshire area."
Mr Hart welcomed the news.
"For once it looks like we have some good news on dental provision in our area," he said. "Tenby desperately needs access to an NHS dentist, but even if the hours are retained – or even better increased – in Narberth then it's good news for everyone."
Simon Hart MP
House of Commons
15, St John St
or 0207 219 3000