National Health Service Dental Patients (East Dunbartonshire)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 19th May 2022.

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Photo of Rona Mackay Rona Mackay Scottish National Party

7. To ask the Scottish Government what support it is providing to dentists in East Dunbartonshire to allow them to take on more NHS patients. (S6O-01116)

Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

We are determined to ensure that national health service dental services emerge well placed to care for the oral health of the whole population, and we are now moving forward with NHS dental recovery. From April, we announced revised payment arrangements that reward NHS dental teams according to their activity. NHS dental contractors will receive an increased payment for work carried out, in a fair and equitable response to the current situation of Covid restrictions facing dentistry. That means that NHS dental practices will be incentivised for registering new patients.

In April, we saw that the revised payment arrangements combined with the relaxation of infection protection and control measures are having a substantial positive impact in improving access and ensuring that the sector can quickly return to more normal levels of activity and clear the backlog.

Photo of Rona Mackay Rona Mackay Scottish National Party

Several of my constituents in Bearsden have raised concerns that a popular local dental practice in the area has ceased providing NHS treatment and is forcing existing NHS patients on to a private monthly payment plan. In light of the Scottish Government’s plans to move to free dental care for all, can the minister confirm how dental treatment can be accessible to everyone in their local community, not just those who can afford to pay?

Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

As I have already intimated, NHS dentistry is a key part of our plan to recover NHS services. We are greatly encouraged by the dental sector’s positive reaction to the relaxation of IPC conditions and the new interim payment arrangements, which I restate are having a substantial effect on patient access. For example, we saw more than 232,000 examination appointments in April, compared with a monthly average of 125,000 during the first three months of the year. That is an increase of 85 per cent in one month.

I understand that there are particular situations such as the one that the member describes, and the Government takes them very seriously. If the member wishes to provide me with further details, I would be happy to look into the situation.