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Action calls on dentistry crisis

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By Fiona Reid
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Action calls on dentistry crisis

‘SERIOUS concerns’ will be raised at Holyrood today about the future of dentistry in the South of Scotland.

It comes as many people locally are facing long waits for NHS appointments and treatments and say they are under pressure from their practices to go private.

In addition, the British Dental Association has warned that 80 per cent of NHS dentists estimate that they will reduce the level of NHS work they perform.

Politicians locally are very concerned at the situation.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth will raise the issue with the Health Secretary in the Scottish Parliament today.

Speaking ahead of that, 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.”

He wants urgent action from the Scottish Government and added: “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.

“Dentists 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.”

And Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson is worried about a Doomsday scenario unless the Scottish Government committed new funding and measures to tackle this emergency.

He is calling for immediate action and additional funding to tackle the enormous dental backlogs being experienced within many rural and deprived communities across Scotland.

Mr Carson said: “Tragically one of the most serious legacies of Covid promises to be a worrying rise in dental inequalities. None more so than within rural and deprived communities that have already been the hardest hit during the last two years.”

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