Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has once again raised his concerns about the future of NHS dentistry, as many people are forced to wait months for treatment – unless they choose to pay privately, in which case it can be provided relatively quickly.

Last year, the British Dental Association warned that 80% of NHS dentists estimate that they will reduce the level of NHS work that they perform.

At the time David McColl, Chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee said: “Free NHS dentistry for all is a worthy ambition. Rather than exploring ways to actually achieve that goal the Scottish Government has blindly headed down a road that could destroy this service.”

Colin Smyth is set to raise the matter once again in the Scottish Parliament with the Health Secretary on Thursday.

Speaking ahead of the question time, he said: “Covid restrictions understandably led to a big drop in the numbers of people seen by an NHS dentist but as restrictions ease, we’re still seeing huge waiting times for people trying to get an appointment with an NHS dentist.

“I am receiving an increasing number of complaints from constituents that they cannot receive a certain treatment on the NHS without an unbearable wait but they are being told that they can get the same treatment with no wait—often from the same dentist—if they go private.

“I have very serious concerns about what this means for the future of our dental service.

“As it stands, there’s a shocking disparity between the treatment that can be provided on the NHS and privately, meaning that if you cannot afford to pay, you are often faced with a terrible wait, while those who can pay are seen with little delay.

“Dentist across south Scotland have huge backlogs from the past two years and the situation is becoming desperate for many people.

“If, as feared, we see an exodus of dentists then we will be back to previous problems we saw in the area where local people simply could not get dental treatment on the NHS. We need urgent action and I will continue to press the Scottish Government on this very important issue.”

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