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I cannot carry the workload of three dentists

A practice owner explains why they have written to their MSP to ask for urgent support to keep NHS dentistry in Scotland afloat.

NHS Scotland logo broken in two


My practice is about to implode, one by one, my associates are leaving, and I cannot find anyone to replace them. The situation is now so acute, I have written to my MSP to call for urgent support for NHS dentistry in Scotland.

I hope you will write to your MSPs too – it's time to say things cannot go on as they are.

The Scottish Government said that NHS dentistry will see reform and a new funding settlement by 31 October 2023, but it may be a case of too little too late.

I've asked my MSP to add their support to reform the NHS dental contract now, to fund prevention and to make NHS dentistry a viable career for our younger colleagues.

A crisis for dentists

I've pointed out that costs are soaring, and already basic NHS procedures like dentures or extractions are being delivered at a financial loss. No health professional can be expected to work under these conditions.

We have lost one dentist in my practice, who we cannot replace due to the ongoing recruitment crisis. So, I am left carrying the workload of the departing dentist as well as my own. In the summer, another dentist will have also gone, and I am not hopeful we will be able to replace them either.

A crisis for patients

I cannot carry the workload of three dentists. I am only one person. In the surrounding area there are no other practices taking on NHS patients either"

I cannot carry the workload of three dentists. I am only one person. In the surrounding area there are no other practices taking on NHS patients either. The only option for my patients is to wait for months on end to receive basic dental care.

My waiting list is already seven months long, when the other dentist leaves it will increase exponentially.

This is causing me untold amounts of stress and I feel my only option now is to plan a way out of my career, as this is not a sustainable situation, and my long-term health will suffer if there is no solution.

We are seeing an exodus from the NHS dental workforce. Morale is at an all-time low and many dedicated NHS colleagues can no longer see their futures working in a dysfunctional and underfunded system. And it is our patients who end up paying the price.

Only government can fix it

We need the Scottish Government to step up now and give dentistry the much needed lifeline it deserves – so I have urged my MSP to take urgent action for our patients and for our profession.

The Scottish Government pledged to make NHS dentistry free at the point of use by 2026. But if they don't step up now, this promise will be broken, and so many dentists will have quit the NHS, it may become too late to fix it.

I know so many colleagues are in a similar situation to me, and I believe that together we can tip the balance. Please take five minutes to write to your MSPs – if we keep up the pressure together, we can hopefully get government to act.