Letters – Dentistry in Scotland after the referendum

01 May, 2014

Dr Willie Wilson writes:

I am a retired academic from Glasgow University who spent more than 30 years teaching dental students (among others) the principles of pharmacology. While my original qualification was not BDS, I feel this experience gives me a certain amount of affinity for the profession of dentistry.

Much of my time in retirement has been spent working for the Yes campaign for the referendum. With the rapid advance of privatisation in the entire English NHS, my major concern is that, in the event of a No vote in September, NHS Scotland will be forced down the same road.

The economic consequence of privatisation – indeed its main intention – is to reduce the cost of the service to the taxpayer. As this proceeds in England and Wales, the funding of Scotland’s block grant automatically suffers in proportion. This will inevitably happen if we remain a part of the UK (whether the Barnett formula is retained or not) and NHS Scotland will suffer the consequences of privatisation that are now becoming obvious in England and Wales.

Very soon there will be a two-tier service, much of it managed by companies such as Atos (French), G4S (American), Serco and others, with a host of damaging and divisive results, not just for the professionals and other employees at every level, but for the entire public who currently depend on our very reputable NHS.

The bottom line economically is illustrated by the fact that the American healthcare system, with its associated army of insurers, accountants and marketing people, gobbles up 18 per cent of their GDP while that figure in the UK is about 9 per cent. Everyone in this country will suffer both financially and in the quality of healthcare.

It has been clear for some years that dentists in Scotland are very unhappy with the leadership provided by both the General Dental Council and the British Dental Association, to the extent that last year’s Scottish LDC conference passed a motion of no confidence in the GDC. It is also likely that this year’s conference will pass a similar motion in respect of the BDA.

These developments strongly suggest that Scotland’s dentists will see the referendum as a huge opportunity to establish their own professional independence, as well as a welcome the chance to gain control over so many of the other vital decisions that affect our daily lives.

Gerald Edwards BDS (Glasgow) writes:

Dr Wilson lives in the same la la land as the rest of the pro independence lobby. All gain, no pain.

An independent Scotland would rapidly become poorer. The non currency union issue/the fantasy about walking into European membership/the falling oil revenues/the price of exporting whisky, etc. will all contribute to less money coming into the Scottish exchequer.

The result will mean cut backs here too. The NHS is costing too much money as it is. Politicians will look at this and see where savings can be made.

Just look at the SNP’s current track record in dentistry… clawbacks and contrived loss of practice allowances. The struggle to get any fee increases at all.

We are not a priorty group in the SNP’s thinking. Need I say more? The very obvious evidence is that dentistry will undoubtedly be worse off if we are independent.

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