South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has once again demanded the Scottish Government take action to ensure dental services continue to be available on the NHS.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, the local MSP asked Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport Maree Todd “what steps [the Scottish Government] can take to encourage dentists to continue treating national health service patients”.
Colin Smyth continued: “Does the minister understand why a third of dentists who were surveyed by the British Dental Association are considering leaving the profession, despite what the Government said?
“Every day, I have constituents who are being told, for example, that they have to wait months for NHS treatment, when they could get the same treatment in days if they go private.
“Does the minister accept that, in the short term, reducing Covid support will exacerbate the problem and, in the long term, it is clear that the model is broken and we need a comprehensive review of dental services, with far greater integration with our NHS?”
Speaking after the question session, Colin Smyth continued: “It was really not clear from the Minister’s answer what support the Government is providing.
“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.
“In Dumfries and Galloway, we have also seen dentists withdrawing NHS treatment and moving to becoming private practices. This has happened in recent weeks in Castle Douglas, where one dental practice is only providing NHS treatment for children. There are serious recruitment and retention issues and it is extremely concerning.
“Frankly, the current system is just not working, and we need action. This could potentially come in the form of local NHS boards directly employing dentists but it would need the full backing of the Scottish Government.”