MSP claims Lothian heading for two-tier dental system as patients unable to register with NHS dentists
Lothian is heading for a two-tier system in dental care as people are forced to go private because they can’t find dentists taking on new NHS patients, an MSP has claimed.
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Labour’s Sarah Boyack warned the issue needed to be tackled now or people would fall through the cracks.
The Lothian MP said: “Constituents have reached out to tell me that they have had to register as private patients to access dental care as they were unable to find dentists taking on new NHS patients.
“With dental surgeries not being able to cope with demand or facing over six-month waiting lists, many patients will be forced to pay for their dental care, resulting in a significant expense.
“For those who can afford it, this may not become a barrier in accessing dentistry services.
“However, for all those who don’t have the financial means, private dentistry is simply not option. We are seeing a two tier system develop.
“Our health system is under a tremendous amount of pressure, if the Scottish Government does not address the issues now, people will fall through the cracks, creating a tidal wave of physical, mental and dental health problems.”
Ms Boyack asked for an update on dealing with the backlog in NHS dentistry.
Public Health Minister Maree Todd NHS dental recovery was moving forward rapidly and the government was supporting the sector to build back to a pre-pandemic level of activity with additional funding of £5 million to improve ventilation in dental premises and a further £7.5 million for equipment.
Ms Boyack said: “I am concerned about that state of affairs. The challenge for dentistry is that aerosol-producing procedures and the infection prevention and control measures constrain the level of activity that dental practices can undertake.
"As we emerge from the pandemic, we expect the situation to improve. Dental practices will be able to register and see new patients. At present, it is more difficult for dental practices to see new patients because of the restrictions.
“For patients to be offered private care instead of NHS care is completely wrong and unacceptable. An NHS-registered patient should not be offered private dental care if the same treatment is available on the NHS, and instances of that behaviour should be reported to the NHS board.”