Scottish dentists have resoundingly rejected the £295 million package proposed by the Executive to lure them back onto the NHS. Talks between the government and dentists have ended in stalemate with both sides sticking to their respective stands.
The Executive had proposed the Dental Action Plan, which required dentists to pledge that they would treat a fixed number of patients on the NHS. The British Dental Association (BDA) was unhappy with this clause and decided to withdraw from the talks. The dental crisis on the NHS has only deepened after this latest twist. Already thousands of patients have been forced to re-register with private dentists after their NHS dentists shut their practices down.
“The Executive is putting Scotland’s dental health in jeopardy by removing the ability for dentists to see only children or those exempt from NHS charges. The levels of funding and investment available for NHS dentistry in Scotland are not sufficient to provide for a universal, comprehensive service for all,” said Andrew Lamb, the BDA director for Scotland.
The deputy health minister Lewis McDonald had launched the DAP in March this year and promised to recruit an extra 200 dentists by 2008. He was disappointed that any agreement had not been reached, “It is disappointing we haven’t been able to reach agreement with them, but our priority now is to deliver our action plan for NHS dentists,” he said. Shona Robison MSP, the SNP’s health spokeswoman echoed his views, but said that the Executive should ensure that there was adequate time to treat the patients.
Margaret Davidson, from the Scotland Patients’ Association, said, “The BDA is putting people’s lives at risk. Dental check-ups are vital for spotting serious health conditions, such as mouth cancer, and everyone should have the right to see a dentist.”