Saving NHS Dentistry in Scotland

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Our plan

We need to see strong action from the Scottish Government to ensure NHS dentistry does not disappear from Scotland.

  1. The funding structure currently in place to be urgently reformed so that dentists are incentivised to take on NHS patients.  
  2. Listen to dentists and look at all aspects of dentistry in Scotland including the role of dental therapists, whether an emergency scheme ensuring those in vulnerable groups can get appointments is needed, workforce planning and training forecasts.  
  3. The Scottish Government to rewrite its NHS Recovery Plan 2021-2026, so that it includes dentistry fully and properly recognises the importance of dentists in the course of the NHS recovery. 

Scottish Liberal Democrats believe that toothcare, like any other form of healthcare, should be universally accessible - it cannot just be for those who can afford to pay privately.

Alex Cole-Hamilton

Scottish Liberal Democrats have uncovered shocking statistics that show the dire state NHS dentistry is in in Scotland.

Our party's research has shown that 1 in 5 people of those unable to get a dental appointment are turning to DIY dentistry.

Claims for payment made by dentists for NHS appointments have fallen by more than 50% in some health boards since 2019.

One patient in NHS Lothian had to wait 169 weeks for outpatient dental treatment in 2022.

Scottish Liberal Democrats were instrumental in bringing forward free dental checks in Scotland and in establishing a new dental school to address workforce shortages. That good work is being undone.

Alex Cole-Hamilton

Dentists are stopping offering NHS services because of the low rates they receive for NHS work and the barriers thrown in their way by Scottish Government ministers.

For many of them the pandemic was the last straw. They have decided it is no longer tenable to work within the NHS

This dire state of affairs was captured by the words of the Chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Council, who has warned of a “wholesale exodus” from NHS work.

It’s harder than ever to see a dentist, even if you are in pain, but the government’s response has been achingly slow.

There have even been reports that Ukrainians in Scotland had to fly home to Kiev rather than face months of waits for treatment.

The SNP even opposed our common sense proposals which would have boosted access to dentistry for everyone.

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