By Bill Heaney
Vast numbers of people are being forced to call emergency dental helplines because they cannot find a national health service dentist, the Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton told the Scottish Parliament today.
He told MSPs: “An investigation that I am publishing today shows that that happened almost 16,000 times last year in Fife alone. That is hardly surprising, given that there is just one Fife practice accepting new NHS patients.
“Across Scotland, people are desperate—some are even resorting to do-it-yourself dentistry.
“The First Minister’s recovery plan promised to abolish NHS dentistry charges altogether, but they are not going away. Next week, they will go up; some will even double.
“What the Government did not tell us is that there are new charges for emergency appointments and for services such as denture repairs. Why are people paying more for less under the Scottish National Party?
LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton and First Minister, Humza Yousaf clashed over dentistry.
The First Minister, Humza Yousaf, said: ” The word that Alex Cole-Hamilton did not mention in his question was pandemic. The pandemic had a significant impact on our dental services—not just here in Scotland, but right across the United Kingdom.
“Alex Cole-Hamilton was also incorrect to say that we have not made progress in removing dental charges. We have done so for young people under the age of 26, and we look forward to making continued progress.
“On growing the NHS dental workforce in Scotland, we have 55 dentists per 100,000 of the population compared with 43 per 100,000 in England. We are investing in our NHS dental services, and the Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care will be more than happy to write to Alex Cole-Hamilton with details of the progress that we have made.
“Crucially, when it comes to the oral health of our young people in particular, which I know is of interest to us all, there has been significant progress there, as well. It will take time, but I can absolutely guarantee not just the public but the people who work in our dental sector across Scotland that we will continue to invest in dentistry so that we can continue to improve outcomes for patients across the country.”