12 January 2017
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, is to contact the Scottish Government about NHS dentistry services after constituents have raised concerns with him recently.
The MSP has received complaints about patients being referred from NHS clinics to ‘High Street’ general dental practices, with NHS Highland unable to give a guarantee that NHS dental treatment will be available at these practices as and when required.
Patients have complained about the practice of referrals to the independent contractors and also about the considerable delay in notifying adult patients that they need to make alternative arrangements to access NHS dental treatment.
One constituent advised that he went for almost a whole year without a check-up as a result.
These referrals are taking place as a result of the Scottish Government reducing the funding for the Public Dental Service on the basis that patients with no additional needs can and should access NHS dental services through a High Street dentist. NHS Highland have no choice but to impose these referrals.
Commenting, David said , “We have received a number of complaints of late and I have raised the matter with NHS Highland and will be raising it with the Scottish Government who is pushing this through.
"The issue of people being referred to High Street dental practices worries me.
"This has happened in the past. NHS patients are referred to independent High Street dentists who, while taking them on an NHS basis, are entitled to de-register a patient from NHS dental care with three months notice.
He continued “This can lead to privatisation by the back door and no one in the Highlands wants to go back there. I will be raising these issues and keeping a close eye on the situation.”