By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrats are set to launch a digital ad campaign highlighting the SNP’s failure to support NHS dentistry.
The campaign comes after the party revealed in September 2022 that 1 in 5 of those who sought and failed to get an NHS dentist last year, resorted to DIY dentistry – that is performing medical treatments on themselves or getting another unqualified individual to do so.
The shock poll also revealed that a quarter of Scots (25%) tried to get a local NHS dentist appointment in the last year but couldn’t get one.
Since then research from the party has revealed that:
Between 2019/20 and 2022/23, the number of dentists performing NHS work fell from 3,407 to 3,155, with 11 health boards seeing a reduction in the number of dentists carrying out NHS procedures.
For outpatient treatments, the longest a patient had to wait in 2022 was 169 weeks in NHS Lothian.
This week a new survey of dentists by the British Dental Association Scotland revealed 59% of dentists say they have reduced the amount of NHS work they undertake since lockdown and 83% now say they will reduce – or further reduce – their NHS commitment in the year ahead.
On 8 February, Scottish nationalist and Scottish Green MSPs blocked a motion, tabled by the Scottish Liberal Democrats which called on the government to acknowledge the crisis in dentistry, reform funding structures to enable more NHS patients to be seen and rewrite the NHS Recovery Plan to include a comprehensive plan for dentists.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, left, said: “Since I raised the issue of DIY dentistry with the First Minister, the situation has gone from bad to worse. The SNP are completely unprepared to tackle the crisis in NHS dentistry.
“There has been a surge in the number of people contacting our councillors and MSPs to say that they cannot get an NHS dentist.
“Last week there were even reports that Ukrainians in Scotland had to fly home to Kiev rather than face months of waits for treatment.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats believe that we need quality dental care in every community. Toothcare should not just be for those who can afford to go private.
“With the sands of Scottish politics shifting there is a huge opportunity for us to let the public know that Scottish Liberal Democrats are on their side.”