The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)
Dentists urge protection of NHS services in letter
● Demand for support after suspension of routine treatment
More than 600 dentists across Scotland have signed a letter urging the Scottish Government to intervene amid the Covid-19 outbreak to prevent NHS dental services being “decimated”.
Practitioners from all over Scotland, including the north and north-east, have written to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman with an urgent request for greater financial support. It follows the directive from the chief dental officer earlier this week that NHS surgeries will no longer be able to provide face-to-face patient care.
The letter, written by Dr Gillian Lennox of Forth Valley’s local dental committee, reads: “The economic impact of this crisis will continue for years. Overnight, practices have seen their incomes decimated.
“Every other health care sector, apart from dentistry, has received a fair funding package. Every other sector has financial stability for their staff and themselves.
“We do not. And if practitioners are left bankrupt, ultimately it will be patients who lose out.
“It is essential there is a fully functional dental service at the end of this crisis or we risk the dental health of the population being pushed back a generation.”
Scottish Conservative north-east MSP Liam Kerr said: “Dentists play a key part in patient care across the north-east and it’s vital that we support them at all times. They are asking for assurances from the Scottish Government that dental practices will be protected after this outbreak and I would hope ministers act swiftly to address these funding concerns.”
North-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald added: “It is important that dental practices are not forced to close altogether, so partners need to know what schemes they can use to keep businesses from going to the wall.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We know that the Covid-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on all areas of our health service, including dental practices.
“That’s why we set out financial support measures for NHS dental practices on March 17 and why we have deployed the budget for NHS dental services to ensure the financial sustainability of practices while routine dental care is suspended.
“We understand the additional concerns of practices who rely more on income from feepaying NHS patients, and recognise that these practices will be adversely affected despite the financial support measures already put in place.
“We are therefore carefully considering this particular issue and working closely with the profession to address these concerns.”