We are working apace to move forward with a modernised system of payment reform that will provide longer-term sustainability for the sector and encourage dentists to provide NHS care. The new system provides greater clinical freedom to dentists through a high-trust, low-bureaucracy model. The new policy prospectus, which the Government set out on 18 April, further commits us to sustained and improved equitable national access to NHS dentistry by 2026. That reaffirms our commitment to the sector and to patients in all parts of Scotland.
In a month’s time, the last NHS dentist in Kinross-shire is set to transform into a private practice. That will clearly be challenging for folk living in a vast rural area, given that there will now be a lack of accessible coverage in relation to a very important public health service. What more can the Government do to improve access to NHS dentistry in rural areas, including those in my constituency?
I recognise the concerns that Jim Fairlie has raised. We are working closely with NHS boards, a number of which have appointed task forces to support them to develop tailored solutions that will address local access issues.
I can confirm that we have recently expanded the Scottish dental access initiative grant support to Kinross. An attractive and unique financial support package has been offered to incentivise the setting-up of new practices or the extension of existing practices. There is the potential of up to £100,000 being offered for the first surgery, with £25,000 per additional surgery.