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​Scotland's public health minister admits waits for hospital dental treatment are 'unacceptable'

4 July 2019

BDA Scotland has blamed consultant shortages, and a failure of regular check-ups for patients, for the long waiting times being experienced for hospital dental patients, following the admission from Scotland's Public Health Minister, Joe FitzPatrick that some dental patients are experiencing 'unacceptable' waits for hospital treatment.

Figures show the number of patients waiting more than 12 weeks for treatment has risen dramatically over the last four years. NHS Grampian has five times as many patients waiting more than the 12-week target than it did in 2015.

Over the same period, NHS Highland has seen a ten-fold increase in the number of patients waiting more than 12 weeks. Across Scotland, more than 1,000 patients have missed the treatment target. 

The Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, who raised this issue in the Scottish Parliament following an information request and evidence from the BDA, said that patients can effectively expect to wait much longer. He said "...the BDA said that those long waits are being driven by a failure on prevention and a failure to invest in the workforce", and quoted figures which show a 15% drop in NHS dental staff in the last five years.

Statistics show that the proportion of those registered with a dentist who actually visit has fallen significantly in the last few years, from 76% in 2014 to below 70% in 2018.

People who are failing to attend the dentist for regular check-ups are then requiring more complex treatment on referral when they do attend. 

The reality is the Government has set a draft budget for 2018/19 in which General Dental Services will increase by 0.2%, meaning a real-terms cut. And we know that across Scotland there are huge challenges filling dental consultant vacancies, and the result is patients are left waiting.

We continue to argue that if prevention is the focus, as outlined in the Scottish Government's Oral Health Improvement Plan, then there needs to be the right investment and resources put into dentistry to be able to achieve this. 

To date only two of the 41 actions outlined in the OHIP have been completed and we have called on Scottish Government to ensure these actions are achievable, backed with real investment and that the dental profession is fully involved in their implementation. 


BDA Scotland

BDA Scotland supports, represents and promotes, the interests of all dentists working in Scotland. Working with elected committee members, we negotiate on behalf of the profession on terms and conditions, and pay and contracts. Join us.