HEALTH: Cole-Hamilton reveals the SNP’s dentistry distortion

By Bill Heaney

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, pictured left, has today said SNP ministers are spinning dentistry statistics to cover up how many patients aren’t being seen, as he revealed that a key statistic deployed by First Minister Humza Yousaf and others massively misrepresents access to NHS dentistry in Scotland.

In response to the efforts of Scottish Liberal Democrats and others to help patients trying in vain to get treatment, Scottish ministers including Humza Yousaf have regularly noted that 95% of people are registered with a dentist.

However, in response to a freedom of information request from the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Public Health Scotland has now confirmed that:

  • Almost half of those registered have not attended an NHS dentist in the past two years.
  • 1.2 million people (almost a quarter of those registered) have not had an examination or treatment in the past five years.
  • More than 10% of those registered have not seen an NHS dentist for more than a decade.
  • And the 95% figure quoted by ministers even includes more than 2,200 patients who have not attended a dentist since the year 2000.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said:  “For years, SNP ministers and parliamentarians have been serving up the great dentistry distortion.  

“These new figures show that simply being registered with a dentist is not a measurement of accessibility. In reality, a quarter of people registered – well over a million people – haven’t seen a dentist in the last 5 years. One in ten registered with a dentist haven’t had a check-up or any treatment for more than a decade.

“It’s ridiculous that the First Minister’s spin even relies upon patients who haven’t been to a dentist since before the Bush administration or the Sydney Olympics. That is not a mark of success.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats have set out plans that would deliver quality, accessible dentistry in every community. To save NHS dentistry, we would reform the funding structures to enable more NHS patients to be seen and rewrite the NHS Recovery Plan to include a comprehensive plan for dentists.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats are on the side of all those communities queuing up for a dentist and tired of the SNP spin.”

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