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Crisis in dentistry continues

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
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Crisis in dentistry continues

DENTAL services are still in crisis across Dumfries and Galloway – despite the lifting of restrictions within practices this month.

Dentists have been continuing to leave the region due to the chaos caused by the pandemic, huge backlogs, and NHS dental services in disarray.

Members of the region’s health board were last week provided with an update on dental services by Alison Milne, interim director of dentistry, and primary care service boss Linda Bunney.

Ms Milne confirmed that, from April 1, strict infection prevention control measures have finally been dropped within dental practices.

She said: “This means that the vast majority of dental patients can be treated without additional PPE, and no down time between patients, regardless of whether aerosols are involved or not.

“However, the challenges and issues that we face in the access of NHS and dental services in Dumfries and Galloway do remain.

“As we continue to see some dentists leaving the region, or reducing their NHS provision, the number of patients without NHS registration is increasing, with some dentists offering to transfer to private care.

“Wherever possible we are working to secure continued registration for children.

“But in summary we see reduced access to NHS dental services for the whole population of the region.

“The reduced access is not equally spread and children and adults living in our most deprived areas are less likely to be accessing NHS dental services, even when registered.

“This is, of course, a particular concern.”

The dentistry director explained that the Scottish Government is working on reform of the dental system, and that a local development plan has also been created.

She said that the overseas registration exam, which had been closed since March 2020, has since reopened.

There are currently around 2000 candidates waiting to sit this exam, which will lead to more foreign dentists coming to Scotland to provide services further down the line.

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