Third of NHS patients miss check-up

FoI request also reveals a quarter have not seen an NHS dentist for five years

24 March, 2024 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

More than a third of patients registered with an NHS dentist went without a check-up or treatment for three years, according to data.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats using freedom of information (FOI) laws also show almost a quarter of the 5.16 million people registered last September had not seen an NHS dentist for five years. The party said that the SNP is leaving both dentists and patients “in the lurch” and warned some people are resorting to “drastic and barbaric options” to obtain treatment.

The figures show around 1.8 million people, 36.7 per cent of patients registered with an NHS dentist, as of 30 September, had not received treatment within the past three years, while one in 10 (10.9 per cent) had not been seen for a decade.

Being registered with a dentist is not a mark of accessibility

Alex Cole-Hamilton

The Scottish Government said that since last September it had introduced “significant dental payment reform” with the aim of encouraging dentists to provide more NHS dentistry, and that in the first month following these changes, nearly 400,000 patients were seen by an NHS primary care dentist.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said: “Being registered with a dentist is not a mark of accessibility. These figures expose the reality that under the SNP, more than a third of registered patients haven’t been seen in the last three years, while one in 10 haven’t had a check-up or any treatment for more than a decade.”

The figures, from Public Health Scotland, show almost a quarter (24.3%) of those registered have not seen an NHS dentist for five years, amounting to around 1.25 million people.

The Scottish Government said that the data precedes the introduction of NHS dental reform from 1 November last year and cannot be taken as indicative of current participation.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said:  “We remain committed to improving access to NHS dentistry in Scotland, following the significant interruption posed by the pandemic and – since this snapshot as of 30 September 2023 – have introduced significant dental payment reform with the aim of encouraging dentists to provide more NHS dentistry.”

Categories: News

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