Scots are sick to the back teeth of dentist shortages

Tuesday 5th January 2010

Due to the ever-increasing number of dentists that have made their practices private, there comes a growing shortage of NHS available dentists. As many as 80,000 Scots are still on a waiting list or without an NHS dentist, with most dental practices showing no signs of shortening their waiting lists. With little else that they can do, many patients in need of a dentist are pleading with the Scottish government to improve the healthcare system they all pay for.

The growing need for NHS dentists is none more predominant than in rural areas of Scotland, with places like the Shetland’s having over 2,000 people awaiting a dentist. The government is also missing their targets of ensuring that up to 80% of children from the ages of three to five were registered by 2010. This shows a worrying statistic, as children’s teeth are susceptible to various diseases, problems and so on, particularly at this age. Therefore, without the necessary treatment at a young age, many of these children will suffer later on in life.

The British Dental Association’s director, Andrew Lamb, suggests more communication is needed between the government and the dentists for them to engage with their concerns. Whilst the problems are recognised, it needs addressing and fast. According to the Public Health Minister, Shona Robison, they are doing everything they can by increasing NHS dentist numbers and extending the amount of patients that can register with these dentists. Additionally, they are trying to increase training for dentists throughout Scotland, particularly with areas that have access problems. The number of dental schools in Scotland is also on the increase in the hope that more students will be encouraged to pursue a career in dentistry. 

Scottish Conservative, Mary Scanlon, implies that the situation has only gotten worse and will continue to do so. She also suggests that Scottish Conservatives want to work closer with dentists to ensure the right care is brought to their patients and that Scottish tax payers are getting their moneys worth. However, it seems everyone is quick to point the finger and blame someone; but in the long run this does little to help the much needed attention for the Scottish dental system.

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