Attendance gap is continuing to grow

Patient registration at record level but fewer adults from poorer areas are visiting their dentists regularly

12 February, 2019 / infocus

People from Scotland’s most deprived communities are attending the dentist less often than their more affluent peers, according to figures recently released by NHS Scotland’s Information Services Division.

Although overall registration in Scotland is at record levels (94.2 per cent), data shows that the attendance gaps for adults and children have trebled in the past 10 years.

Among adults, 62.2 per cent of those in the poorest areas had visited their dentist in the last two years, compared to 72.7 per cent of those in the most affluent neighbourhoods. Among children, the figures were 79.8 per cent and 89.2 per cent respectively.

The attendance gaps of 10 percentage points for adults and nine points for children have both gone up from just three percentage points in 2008.

Notably, adults on lower incomes are more likely to be registered with an NHS dentist than their wealthier counterparts, at 97.5 per cent compared to 88.6 per cent.

The figures have resulted in calls for the Scottish Government to do more to increase attendance by adults in
deprived areas.

Robert Donald, chair of the BDA’s Scottish Council, said: “Year on year, the Scottish Government has attempted to hide behind positive-sounding registration numbers. But these figures are based on ‘lifetime registration’, and nothing can conceal the gap that’s now opened between rich and poor when it comes to attendance.

“The people missing out on appointments are precisely those we most need to see.

“Residents in Scotland’s most deprived communities are more than twice as likely to develop and die from oral cancer, and early detection is key.”

“Nothing can conceal the gap that has now opened up between rich and poor when it comes to attendance”

Robert Donald

Tags: 2019 / attendance / grow

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