Dental :: Scottish Executive policy exacerbating dental problems – NHS

Figures obtained this week by the British Dental Association (BDA) show that the Scottish Executive’s dental reforms are failing to achieve one of their key aims.

Almost two years after the implementation of the reforms, the figures show that the number of dental practices considered to be committed to the NHS according to the Scottish Executive’s definition is plummeting.

The figures, released by NHS Practitioner Services in response to a freedom of information request, show that the number of practices that don’t fulfil the criteria to be considered committed has risen by 32 per cent in the last twelve months. That means there are now 344 practices in Scotland providing NHS care that are not eligible for allowances based on this measure of commitment. Almost 40 per cent of practices providing NHS dentistry are no longer considered committed, compared to less than 30 per cent twelve months previously.

Colin Crawford, Chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said:

In many parts of Scotland, NHS dentistry is in crisis. The Scottish Executive Health Department has introduced, and chosen to persist with, a definition of commitment to the NHS that is clearly flawed. These figures show that, far from helping deliver the funding intended to promote NHS dental care, the Scottish Executive’s criteria are actually leading to many NHS practitioners being disqualified from receiving it.

The BDA has repeatedly warned the Scottish Executive that its intransigence in failing to tackle this issue is exacerbating the significant problems faced by dentists. The news that practices across the country are being told they suddenly no longer qualify for commitment allowances, despite treating thousands of NHS patients for decades, confirms our fears that access for patients is likely to get worse.

It’s time for the Scottish Executive to acknowledge this policy is not achieving what it is supposed to and introduce a sliding scale of commitment that recognises the contribution these 344 practices make to delivering NHS dental care to patients across Scotland.

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