Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur has today (Wednesday) pressed the Health Secretary to drop plans to end emergency funding to NHS dental services.
Last month, Cabinet Secretary Humza Yousaf wrote to all NHS dental teams confirming that all emergency support will be withdrawn by 1 April 2022. During an exchange in the Scottish Parliament chamber, Mr McArthur called on Mr Yousaf to "think again".
It comes as the British Dental Association Scotland warned that the SNP government’s plans to revert to pre-COVID models of work "may devastate dental services", by "sparking a flight of dentists from the NHS". BDA Scotland Chair, David McColl, also warned Mr Yousaf that he risks being the man "who killed NHS dentistry in Scotland", likening the plans to being "shackled to a corpse".
BDA Scotland revealed that 9 in 10 of Scottish dentists estimate the removal of emergency funding will have a high impact on the short-medium term sustainability of their practices. 8 in 10 said they would reduce the amount of NHS dental work they carried out, with 4 in 10 suggesting they would stop providing NHS treatment altogether.
Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said:
"A decade ago, waiting lists even to register with a dental practice in Orkney were one of the biggest local health concerns. Considerable effort went into tackling those problems, including an increase in places at dental schools and targeted support to help rural and island practices recruit staff. Those efforts were successful.
"Now the Health Secretary risks undermining that progress, while at the same time pulling the rug out from under NHS dental services across Scotland.
"I have been contacted by local dentists in Orkney who echo BDA Scotland's dire warnings and urging the Scottish Government to think again.
"Given the potential consequences, they are right to sound the alarm. At this rate, many people in Orkney and across the country with be faced with the option of going private or going without.
“Humza Yousaf must rethink his approach. He must also question how much confidence he now has in his Chief Dental Officer, who has allowed negotiations with the dental sector to reach this dangerous impasse."