Mallaig residents face two-hour trip to dentist
A remote Highland village has lost its dentist – leaving residents facing a two-hour round journey for treatment.
• Patients will now have to travel to Fort William
• New regulations mean current centre not big enough
The M&S Dental Care outreach centre in Mallaig has closed after three-and-a-half years in Mallaig as a result of rising hygiene guidelines.
The changes mean there is insufficient space at the Mallaig Health Centre, where the centre was based, to install the separate equipment now needed for the decontamination of dental tools.
Dentist George Muir said all the registered patients would have to travel to its Fort William centre instead.
He added: “It’s a been a pleasure being in Mallaig for the last three-and-a-a-half years and we are gutted that we have to leave now.
“Unfortunately the days of the single handed practice are over, the demands of conforming to the current standards are too high.
“The new regulations are all about cross-infection and the intention is that the same standard should apply to every process everywhere, whether it’s the operating theatre at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness or the dentist’s surgery.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Highland said:”For a small number of patients it may not be possible to travel to Fort William.
“Some examples may be patients with disabilities or other health issues which may make travelling difficult.
“We also recognize that those with caring roles may be unable to travel and equally, dependent patients relying on carers to take them to the dentist may require local access.
“In acknowledgement of this NHS Highland is planning to provide a two day per week service through its Salaried Dental Service, at the Mallaig Health Centre, with decontamination of the dental instruments
taking place at the Camaghael Health Centre, Fort William.
“A similar model, where instruments are decontaminated off site is in place for other outreach dental services such as Lochinver and is in line with regulations.
“This service will be limited, taking account of staff travel time and the need for the reception function to be completed within the surgery.
“As a consequence it is proposed that this limited service is available only to those patients for whom travel to Fort William to access dental services is not possible.”
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