By Lucy Ashton

Jackie Baillie has said that NHS dentistry is in ‘chaos’ as the number of NHS24 calls related to oral and dental health soared in just five years.

Figures obtained via FOI reveal that the number of NHS24 calls about oral and dental health increased from 25,509 in 2018-2019 to a shocking 67,189 in 2022-2023.

This comes as the British Dental Association gave a stark warning that NHS Dentistry in Scotland faces an ‘existential threat’ after analysis showed more than half of capacity has been lost compared to before the pandemic.

The BDA also stated that NHS dentistry in Scotland is at risk of going from “crisis to collapse” because of a mass workforce exodus and declining access to care.

With calls to NHS24 soaring while thousands are still going without access to NHS dentistry, the Dumbarton constituency MSP is raising the alarm over the creation of a “two-tier dentistry service” in Scotland.

Dame Jackie Baillie, pictured left, and her Scottish Labour colleagues are demanding urgent action to stave off this chaos and ensure patients are able to access the primary care they need instead of relying on emergency services.

Ms Baillie said: “There is a national shortage of dentists and this is affecting people across Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond who are struggling just to get a check-up. Inevitably this pushes people to crisis point and they end up with severe dental problems which forces them to have to call NHS24 for emergency treatment.

“The chaos engulfing our dental services is forcing NHS dentistry to the brink. The SNP Government need to focus on fixing primary care to stop people having to access urgent services like NHS24 and A&E when their symptoms become so severe.

“Concerns about access to care and a collapsing workforce have fallen on deaf ears but the Scottish Government need to start taking these warnings seriously.

“The SNP cannot continue to sit on their hands as this crisis worsens. Urgent action must be taken now before our dentistry service is irreparable.”

 Call Reason Apr18-Mar19 Apr19-Mar20 Apr20-Mar21 Apr21-Mar22 Apr22-Mar23
Dentistry 25,509 29,737 43,180 65,090 67,189

Source: Scottish Labour FOI (available on request)

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