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NHS dentistry reprieved as vital support extended in Scotland

The British Dental Association have said NHS dentistry has escaped imminent collapse.

This is following the Scottish Government's decision to extend vital support until 31 October 2023.

A 'bridging payment' - originally due to lapse on 1 April 2023 - uprated NHS fees by 1.1. With spiralling costs and lower patient numbers the professional body had warned ministers the traditional high volume/low margin model NHS dentistry works to was now unsustainable and removing the payment would push practices to bankruptcy or into the private sector.

BDA Scotland stress a new sustainable model must be in place by 31 October, otherwise the extension will only delay the inevitable. Practices are already facing the risk of providing NHS care that involves laboratory work – like dentures - at a loss.

NHS dentistry in Scotland has not returned to anything resembling business as usual. Recent data has indicated claims submitted by NHS dentists for dental work are 43% down on 2019 levels and suggest a growing exodus from the NHS workforce.

The news comes just 24 hours before the Scottish Lib Dems are set to use a parliamentary debate on Wednesday to declare a crisis in NHS dentistry.

David McColl, Chair of the British Dental Association's Scottish Dental Practice Committee said:

"This is needed progress. We told the Scottish Government that pulling the plug on these payments would be a body blow to this service.

"What's needed now is real reform to a broken system. There can be no more kicking the can down the road - a sustainable model must be in place come October."