By Bill Heaney
Following the news that the number of claims made by dentists on the NHS are less than half of what they were pre-pandemic, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton has today accused the SNP of “abandoning” NHS dentistry.
New dental statistics published by Public Health Scotland reveal that 223,055 NHS dental claims were made in September 2022. This represents a drop of 58% from the 525,848 claims made in January 2020, before the pandemic began.
Last month the Scottish Liberal Democrats uncovered through freedom of information requests that there are 400 fewer dentists offering NHS treatment now compared to pre-pandemic. It was also uncovered that the Dental Advisory Group announced in March still doesn’t have any members and still hasn’t met.
Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The SNP are abandoning NHS dentistry. They have distracted themselves with plans to break up the UK, leaving thousands of Scots in pain in the process.
“Toothcare should not just be for those who can afford to pay privately. We’ve found people turning to DIY dentistry in pain and desperation. They can’t find a practice to treat them because 400 NHS dentists have been lost under this Scottish Government.
“My party and I are now calling for a rewrite of the NHS Recovery Plan so that dentists are properly recognised, for the advisory group announced in March to finally be established and for the reform of the funding structure so that dentists can return to taking on NHS patients.
“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. That is being steadily unpicked by a government which refuses to recognise that this is a problem.”