Scottish Government faces questions over ‘neglect’ of dental profession
Dentists and patients 'feel that nobody is on their side; a shocking situation', says MSP
The Scottish Government faces questions in Parliament over its “neglect” of the dental sector, with warnings that half of dental practices face going out of business and of the “worrying” impact that lockdown has had on the population’s oral health.
Oliver Mundell, the MSP for Dumfriesshire, told Scottish Dental magazine: “I have been inundated by constituents who are struggling to get the dental treatment they need and who don’t understand why dentists can’t provide NHS treatments that dentists feel are safe to offer privately.
“Like colleagues, I have been raising each individual case with the Health Secretary and have put down a parliamentary question demanding answers. I am concerned that the dental sector is in grave danger of being neglected by the Scottish Government, who don’t seem to understand the problem or the knock-on effects on patients.
“Vulnerable patients are being put in an impossible situation and there is a clear disparity between those who can and cannot pay, which is completely wrong.
“Whilst some dental practices are returning to a more normal service, there remains an urgent need for the Scottish Government to support the sector, especially when almost half of dental businesses face going out of business. Many dentists and patients feel that nobody is on their side, which is a shocking situation to have ended up in. Dental health and hygiene are so important – there must be a proper plan in place moving forward.”
Mundell’s intervention comes in the wake of the publication last month of the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme’s (SDCEP) ‘rapid review’ on the use of aerosol generating procedures (AGPs), which holds out hope that practice capacity could be increased to between 60 and 70 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels, and as pressure is mounting on the UK and Scottish Government’s “to step up and offer direct financial support”.
Mick Armstrong, former BDA chair and a member of the review’s working group, said: “If fallow time can be reduced to 10 minutes then dentist capacity could increase significantly. That would vastly reduce the current threat to dentist viability and really begin to tackle the worrying impact that lockdown has inevitably had on the population’s oral health.
“There are, however, potentially vast costs involved in getting to that stage. It is clear that capital investment in dentistry is essential to move forward. This is a public health measure and it is a reasonable ask of the Government to help get dentistry back on its feet.”
Meanwhile, the BDA has written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak warning that 79 per cent of practices face financial difficulty.