Pa­tients face 60-mile round trip to den­tist af­ter is­land clo­sure

The Oban Times - - News -

SOUTH Uist res­i­dents re­quir­ing den­tal work face a 60-mile round trip af­ter the health board deemed Lochbois­dale Den­tal Clinic a lost cause.

NHS Western Isles said the de­ci­sion to close Lochbois­dale clinic was due to a range of fail­ings iden­ti­fied dur­ing a re­cent au­dit by its in­fec­tion preven­tion and con­trol team.

The move has been met with anger among lo­cal res­i­dents who now have to travel as far as Lini­clate Den­tal Clinic, Ben­bec­ula, for treat­ment. The mo­tive be­hind the de­ci­sion has also been ques­tioned.

Cal­lum MacMil­lan, an SNP can­di­date for Barra, Vater­say, Eriskay and South Uist in the forth­com­ing coun­cil elec­tions, claimed: ‘This has clearly been done to co­in­cide with the cur­rent plans for the den­tal hub in Ben­bec­ula. These have been re­jected by com­mu­ni­ties in Uist at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity, yet of­fi­cials in Stornoway con­tinue to per­sist with them.

‘If the build­ing is gen­uinely un­fit for pur­pose, why has it been al­lowed to op­er­ate in this con­di­tion for the last three years? Why was so lit­tle no­ti­fi­ca­tion given to staff or pa­tients? Why are pa­tients now be­ing ex­pected to take round trips of up to 60 miles just to see a den­tist?’

Don­ald Man­ford, also a coun­cil elec­tion can­di­date, de­cribed the sit­u­a­tion as a stark il­lus­tra- tion of what is cur­rently wrong with the pro­vi­sion of pub­lic ser­vices the length of the Western Isles and said that com­mu­ni­ties need to be at the fore­front of de­ci­sion mak­ing; they should not be viewed as ob­sta­cles to be sidestepped.

He added: ‘Ig­nor­ing com­mu­nity needs in­sults lo­cal­ity group ob­jec­tives and dis­re­gards grass­roots-up re­quire­ments, bring­ing In­te­grated Joint Board prin­ci­ples into dis­re­pute.’

A spokesper­son from NHS Western Isles re­futed the claim needs had been ig­nored, say­ing that money had been ear­marked for the clinic years ago. The orig­i­nal plan was to build a sec­ond surgery but as­sess­ments car­ried out ahead of the project high­lighted that no amount of spend­ing could bring it up to mod­ern re­quired stan­dards.

She added: ‘Fur­ther work on Lochbois­dale was there­fore halted pend­ing a full re­view of den­tal ser­vice de­liv­ery in the Uists, as in­vest­ment and mod­erni­sa­tion had also been planned for the Uist and Barra Hos­pi­tal. In the case of Lochbois­dale, even if the board had spent sub­stan­tial sums to re­fur­bish the ex­ist­ing build­ing, it still wouldn’t have met all the mod­ern stan­dards for a den­tal fa­cil­ity as there is phys­i­cally not enough space in the build­ing. The risk as­so­ci­ated with the build­ing has now, fol­low­ing fur­ther as­sess­ment, passed the point of be­ing as­sessed as man­age­able. All school chil­dren are and will con­tinue to be treated at Lini­clate Den­tal Clinic and pre-school chil­dren also at­tend­ing are al­ways ac­com­pa­nied. Our ex­pe­ri­ence is also that frail elderly pa­tients are in­vari­ably ac­com­pa­nied. Some pa­tients will have to travel fur­ther and some less so, al­though these dis­tances are no more than in other parts of Lewis and Har­ris. We will be alert to dif­fi­cul­ties that may arise and will ex­am­ine spe­cific cases to see how we might al­le­vi­ate any prob­lems. Our cur­rent den­tal team will con­tinue to con­trib­ute to the ser­vices lo­cally.’

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