By Bill Heaney
The SNP government is failing to protect the health of the most deprived people in Scotland, Jackie Baillie has said, as statistics have shown growing inequality in access to dental services.
Statistics published last week have shown that there were more than two million fewer patients seen from January to November in 2022 compared to the same period in 2019. In the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, less than half of all registered adults (46.9 percent) had seen a dentist in the two years to 30 September 2022.
This has continually fallen under the 15-year reign of this SNP government from a high of 98.9 percent in September 2007.
Most shocking of all, oral health inequalities have continued to grow under the SNP.
In September 2022, children and adults from the most deprived areas, which includes West Dunbartonshire, were less likely to have seen their dentist compared to the least deprived areas within the last two years (55.9 percent compared to 75.8 percent for children and 42.7 percent compared to 53.5 percent of adults).
These inequalities are starkest in children. In September 2008, the gap between the child participation rates for the most and least deprived quintiles was three percentage points; this had increased to seven percentage points by 2010, and twenty percentage points in September 2022 (the highest reported difference).
Dumbarton constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie, pictured left, said: “The facts are clear for all to see. Dental inequality has soared under the SNP and young people from the most deprived backgrounds, including many from my own constituency, are most severely affected.
“That less than half of registered patients within Greater Glasgow and Clyde have seen an NHS dentist in the last two years is nothing short of a disgrace.
“The SNP’s failure to resource dental practices is creating a two-tier dental system. The people who have money are able to go private and those who don’t have the funds are left without this vital service, widening the health inequality gap in areas already in deprivation.
“It’s time for Humza Yousaf to wake up to the crisis and act before NHS dentistry for all becomes a thing of the past.”
Patients seen by NHS dentist in Scotland