DENTISTS want the Welsh Government to take action to avoid a repeat of the lengthy queue which built up outside a new practice in Llangollen.

The British Dental Association is calling for a reform of the NHS funding model for dentistry after hundreds of people queued for hours to register at the Beauwood Dental Care practice in Chapel Street last week.

Images of patients - including pensioners and mothers and babies - lining up around the block to sign up for an NHS dentist went viral and the BDA has called on the Welsh Government and local health boards in Wales to ensure this situation does not become the ‘new normal’.

The BDA recently revealed people across Wales are increasingly facing a 'postcode lottery' for dentistry with data showing that new patients are sometimes facing huge journeys to see an NHS dentist.

There are particular blackspots and some Llangollen residents in the queue last week told the Leader they had been forced to travel to Wrexham, Ruthin and even as far as Barmouth to seek out a dentist.

Residents in Aberystwyth, who face a 90-mile round trip, and those in Newtown, where an 80-mile journey is the norm, are also high on the list of those inconvenienced.

Tom Bysouth, Chairman of the BDA's Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, said: "It is the 21st Century, and a developed nation with universal healthcare shouldn’t see residents queuing round the block to access basic services. The Welsh Government and health boards have a responsibility to ensure the scenes in Llangollen do not become the new normal.

“For over a decade dentistry in Wales has been shackled by a system that puts tick boxes and targets ahead of patient care. The result is patients are now travelling further or waiting longer for appointments, while practices are unable to attract or keep staff.

“This postcode lottery must end to ensure that all those who want NHS care can access it.”

North Wales health watchdog officials say the lack of NHS dentistry in many areas often triggers a surge in demand when a new practice opens, such as the one in Llangollen.

Until the new opening residents have not been able to access dentistry in the town this year after the former practice closed.

Dentist leaders say £20 million has been lost from local NHS dental services in the last three years because when practitioners are unable to meet the tough targets set by government in their contracts their budgets are returned to health boards and not usually reinvested.

They say morale in the profession has fallen to its lowest levels in two decades and more than half of dentists are considering leaving the profession.