‘3.5 million lost appointments’ in Scotland

26 October, 2021 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

New data shows the scale of the treatment backlog facing practices in Scotland.

According to the British Dental Association (BDA), it “demonstrates the absurdity of government plans to return to pre-COVID models of care”.

Public Health Scotland has confirmed that the number of treatments delivered in the year to March 2021 was less than 25 per cent of those delivered in the previous 12-month period.

The BDA said that this means more than 3.5 million appointments have been lost as a result of the pandemic.

Last week, Cabinet Secretary Humza Yousaf wrote to all NHS dental teams in Scotland informing them that all emergency support will be withdrawn by 1 April 2022. Since the first lockdown, NHS practices have operated under a COVID support package, reflecting pandemic pressures and tight infection control restrictions that continue to limit capacity across the service.

But patients are now presenting with higher levels of need, requiring additional treatment time. BDA Scotland warned that the return to a “‘business as usual model’ – low margin and high volume – will put practices under unsustainable financial pressure and will likely lead to closures or movement to the private sector.”

In light of the SNP’s centrepiece policy of providing free NHS dental care for all, BDA Scotland have stressed the need to develop a new, sustainable model for delivering care. In the interim, it said, a workable interim funding model is needed to support dentists and their teams to care for their patients.

David McColl, Chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee said: “Dentists are facing an unprecedented backlog, as we continue to work to restrictions designed in the first lockdown. This new data underlines the sheer perversity of government plans to pretend COVID is yesterday’s news.

“Withdrawing emergency funding will pull away the life support from hundreds of dedicated NHS practices serving communities across Scotland.”

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