ORAL HEALTH MATTERS: Dental procedures crater as SNP abandon NHS dentistry 

By Bill Heaney

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, RIGHT, has today accused the SNP of abandoning NHS dentistry as new figures showed that the number of claims for NHS payment made by dentists is still down by more than a third compared to before the pandemic.

New dental statistics published today by Public Health Scotland reveal that in June 2022, 341,709 NHS dental claims were made, down 35% from the 525,848 claims made pre-pandemic in January 2020. 

Dental claims are submitted by NHS dentists for activity monitoring or to claim payment for treatments and associated fees, such as issuing a prescription or orthodontic interim payments. Each claim may cover a single appointment or multiple appointments depending on the treatment provided.

These figures follow data obtained under freedom of information by the Scottish Dental Association (SDA) and published in the Herald today which showed that just £343 million was spent by the Scottish Government on General Dental Services (GDS) in 2022/23, out of a total dental budget of £431m, with Dr Brendan Murphy, an SDA member warning that this reflected a growing reluctance among practitioners to take on NHS work because the fees paid no longer cover their costs.

Alex Cole-Hamilton said:”The Scottish Government are abandoning NHS dentistry. Toothcare should not just be for those who can afford to pay privately but dentists are warning that engaging with the Scottish Government over current funding levels is worse than pulling teeth.

“Liberal Democrats were instrumental in introducing free dental checks in Scotland and in pressing for a new dental school to address the shortage of dentists, particularly in remote and rural areas of Scotland. 

“The country has made real progress but that is being steadily unpicked by a Scottish Government who are refusing to recognise that this is a problem.

“Everyone should be able to rely on swift and reliable dental care close to home.”

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