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​Scandal as patients left waiting over two years for life-changing oral surgery

6 October 2019


BDA Scotland has said government must take responsibility and tackle waiting times of over 2 years for oral surgery.


Freedom of Information requests undertaken by the Scottish Liberal Democrats have revealed waits of over 120 weeks (2.3 years) for inpatient oral and maxillofacial treatment, covering diseases affecting the mouth, jaw, face and neck - with one patient in the NHS Grampian area having waited 243 weeks (4.6 years) for an outpatient procedure. The Scottish Government operates a 12-week target for surgery.


These figures include procedures that can restore the functionality and appearance of a patient's mouth following oral cancer - which ranks among Scotland's fastest growing cancers - or serious injury.


BDA Scotland has pointed to huge problems filling consultant vacancies and continued underfunding of both primary and secondary dental services as key factors driving waiting times. Hospitals are facing an increasing number of referrals for tooth extractions, adding to surgical waiting times, owing to the lack of support for senior clinicians in high street practice to supervise and train younger and less experienced dentists.


High street dentists are currently paid just £16.25 for a tooth extraction, and often struggle to cover staffing, equipment and facilities costs, adding to the volume of referrals for hospital treatment, which can cost as much as £600.


Data published in June revealed over 5,000 people had been waiting for more than 12 weeks for dental extractions in Scottish hospitals. 


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


"Patients shouldn't be waiting eons for life-changing surgery. 


"These procedures can help restore both functionality and appearance to a patient's teeth and mouth after cancer or serious injuries.

"Years of underinvestment and failure to support high street practice are heaping huge pressures on our hospitals. Ministers can't go on treating dentistry as an optional extra in Scotland's health service."


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.