Edinburgh dentists: First Minister Humza Yousaf says new payment system will help keep dentists in NHS
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He acknowledged there was a “serious problem” with many dentists no longer taking NHS patients, but said reform of the payments they receive for the treatment they carry out would incentivise them to continue to offer NHS care. In June, the Evening News revealed that three-quarters of dentists in Edinburgh offering NHS services were not accepting new adult patients.
The issue was raised at First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament by Lothian Labour MSP Foysol Choudhury. He said: “My constituent Claire was informed that her dentist would be privatised from January and that her family would need to start paying monthly fees or leave the practice. That is not an isolated case; another family in the west of Edinburgh was also informed that their dentist would be privatised. Neither family has been able to find another dentist in their area who will take on NHS patients.”
He asked what action the Scottish Government was taking to support dentists and their staff to ensure their services remained accessible for all.
Mr Yousaf said it was “a serious problem” and the government had been working with the British Dental Association Scotland and the wider sector on payment reform, which had launched this week.
He said: “That is the most significant change to NHS dentistry in a generation and it provides practitioners with a whole new suite of fees that are designed to provide a full range of care and treatment to NHS patients. I am confident that reform will provide longer-term sustainability to the dental sector and will encourage dentists to continue to provide NHS care.
"A dentist who provides a full set of dentures will now receive £366.80, which is an increase of more than 60 per cent. We have increased the fee for providing surface fillings by almost 45 per cent. We are trying to incentivise NHS dentistry because of the issues that Foysol Choudhury is right to mention. We are also working with the BDA and others on the recruitment and retention of dentists, particularly in areas where we know that the problem is most acute.”
The new fee structure for dentists is intended to streamline payments, cut bureaucracy and give them greater authority over the treatments offered. Dentists will also now be able to advise patients on how often they need check-ups based on their oral health, rather than everyone being seen every six months.
Examinations continue to be free for all patients, with pregnant and new mothers, those claiming certain benefits, and the under 26s remaining exempt from treatment charges – around a quarter of all adult NHS dental patients.