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Dental crisis tightens grip on region

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By Christie Breen
Annan and Eskdale
Dental crisis tightens grip on region

DUMFRIES and Galloway’s dental crisis is reaching fever pitch as practices continue to close or scrap their NHS services.

Many adult patients at Gunning Dental in Annan will no longer be seen on the NHS by dentists as of May, although the practice has said it will continue to provide some NHS care.

This comes on the back of several practices across the region, from Thornhill to Gretna, dropping NHS services.

The region’s MSPs are up in arms about the dwindling dentist numbers and blame both the UK Government and the Scottish Government for their failure to properly fund dentists.

South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth said: “It just seems to be one dental practice after another is axing or reducing NHS services at the moment, and the Scottish Government are like rabbits caught in the headlights.

“Some patients in Annan will now have to join many others across the region in either having to pay for private care or try to find another dentist that provides NHS care, but that is almost impossible locally.

“It is effectively the privatisation of NHS care in Dumfries and Galloway.

“Both Governments have been warned over and over that this would happen but they have completely ignored those warnings. Unless both governments face up to this crisis in our area, it is only a matter of time before no adult in our region will have NHS dental care.”

Galloway and West Conservative MSP Finlay Carson spoke about the region’s ongoing dental crisis in Holyrood this week. Afterwards he accused the Scottish Government of being out of touch with reality, and said: “There is not one dental practice in the whole of Dumfries and Galloway that is taking on NHS patients – that is a fact.

“Dental leaders have been warning for some time now that Scottish Government funding no longer covers the cost of treating NHS patients because of enhanced cleaning and infection control measures brought in during the pandemic.

“After months of dilly dallying, NHS dentistry in Scotland teeters on the brink of total collapse – it has finally reacted by extending vital financial support until the end of October.

“But once again, I fear it has come too late as some practices have already shut up shop or moved into the private sector.”

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