‘A few more weeks’ for dental contract
‘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].’