‘A few more weeks’ for den­tal con­tract

The Oban Times - - Front Page -

‘A FEW more weeks’ and a con­tract for Oban’s multi-mil­lion pound NHS den­tal prac­tice could be fi­nally signed.

But at a meet­ing on Mon­day, mem­bers of the Oban, Lorn and the Isles Lo­cal­ity Health and Care Fo­rum (LHCF) said they had heard it all be­fore.

Or­tho­don­tist Ewen White, as­sis­tant den­tal di­rec­tor in Ar­gyll and Bute, said NHS High­land had been in ne­go­ti­a­tion with a den­tal prac­ti­tioner who was keen to take over the unit at Lorn and Is­lands Hos­pi­tal. He hoped the con­tract would be signed and, while ne­go­ti­a­tions had slowed down, he had no rea­son to be­lieve the con­tract would not be signed.

Mr White said: ‘We were ap­proached by this den­tist and things moved very quickly to be­gin with. He has been away in the States, but now he has re­turned to Scot­land he says Oban will be his main pri­or­ity. He says he will be sign­ing the pa­pers in the next cou­ple of weeks.’

Mr White gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on the fu­ture of den­tistry in Ar­gyll and said that while the fund­ing of the den­tal unit was the cor­rect thing to do when it was com­mis­sioned, Scot­tish gov­ern­ment pol­icy in the mean­time had shifted.

He ex­plained: ‘The costs of pro­vid­ing treat­ment on the NHS can be very high.’ He gave the ex­am­ple of a den­ture mould be­ing a high cost item for a den­tist that was not cov­ered by the NHS.

He ex­plained that while the unit was ready to be oc­cu­pied, gov­ern­ment rules for den­tists work­ing out of a NHS unit meant the ma­jor­ity of den­tal work done had to be NHS work. ‘This means there is very lit­tle op­por­tu­nity to make a profit from the busi­ness,’ he added. A claim of a lack of ac­cess to den­tal ser­vices in Oban, raised by Tom Dolan, Taynuilt, was re­futed by Christina West, chief of­fi­cer health and so­cial care in­te­gra­tion.

In a let­ter to the LHCF, she said: ‘In less than a year, Oban will have its gen­eral den­tal ser­vice pro­vi­sion soar from seven chairs to eleven.

‘Both Shore Street and the new prac­tice are NHS com­mit­ted. As such, they must have 500 reg­is­tered pa­tients per head and must gross at least £ 50,000 per den­tist per year. For this, they re­ceive var­i­ous in­cen­tives. Sub­se­quently, I do not be­lieve that Oban res­i­dents will now have a prob­lem ac­cess­ing NHS den­tistry with or with­out the ad­di­tional pres­ence of prac­ti­tioner four [the NHS unit at Lorn and Is­lands hos­pi­tal].’

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