I welcome the fact that increased numbers of patients in Grampian are registered with a dentist. What reassurance can the minister give me that there is proper monitoring of the practices that have received NHS grants to establish new surgeries to ensure that they fulfil the requirement that 80 per cent of their work is NHS treatment, and to ensure that patients who are registered with the practices are receiving check-ups and treatment at appropriate intervals? I know that those issues have already been raised with the Scottish Government.
The member referred to the Scottish dental access initiative that was developed to increase the number of dental practices that will register NHS patients, particularly in areas in which there is a lack of service. He rightly recognises that there has been a significant increase in the level of NHS dentistry that is being made available within the NHS Grampian area. It is part of the condition of that grant that a significant number of the dental practice patients are registered as NHS patients and individual boards are responsible for monitoring that.
There have been some issues with a practice in Grampian that NHS Grampian took appropriate action to address. I understand that NHS Grampian has also written to all the practices that have received support through the Scottish dental access initiative to ensure that their status remains the same and that they are delivering the services that are agreed on as part of the grant conditions.
The point about check-up rates is very important. It may be helpful if I inform the member that 83.6 per cent of patients who are registered in Grampian presented for treatment in the previous two years. That figure is higher than the Scottish average of 79.3 per cent, so it is clear that a significant number of patients in Grampian are making use of NHS dentistry services, the provision of which has significantly increased under this Government. I have no doubt that patients will continue to benefit from the increasing level of access that has been made available to them.
Is the minister aware that, 10 years ago, there were areas of Grampian in which it was impossible to register even for private dental treatment and that some of my constituents used to travel twice a year to Budapest, Amsterdam and other European cities for their treatment? Can he assure us that we will continue to see improvements in the provision of NHS dental care in the NHS Grampian area?
The member makes a good point because there were significant difficulties for patients in the NHS Grampian area who wanted to access NHS dentistry. For example, in 2007 only 59.2 per cent of children in NHS Grampian were registered with a dentist under NHS arrangements; as at 30 September 2012, that figure had reached 77.1 per cent. In 2007 only 28.9 per cent of adults in NHS Grampian were registered with a dentist under NHS arrangements; as at 30 September, 2012, that figure had reached 56 per cent.
We continue to make provision under the Scottish dental access initiative, which is available in Grampian—particularly in Aberdeenshire and in Morayshire—to target areas where there continues to be limited access so that we can ensure that those patients in NHS Grampian who wish to have access to an NHS dentist are able to do so.