Huge rise in ‘unsatisfactory’ dental treatment

Inspectors have uncovered a huge drop in the standard of dental care provided by one of Scotland’s leading health boards – despite a government drive to improve services.

New figures show the number of “completely unsatisfactory” cases at NHS Grampian rose from about one in 100 in 2010 to only one in six last year.

The increase follows a campaign to tackle the area’s growing waiting list for patients trying to get access to dental care. Grampian was branded one of the worst in the country, with 35,000 people unable to get treatment on the NHS.

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The Scottish Government invested millions of pounds to try to solve the chronic shortage of NHS dentists.

But North-east MSP Richard Baker said the recruitment drive appeared to have coincided with a dramatic fall in standards. He said: “It is going to take work from the health board to ensure the figures are not repeated in future, and that means a strategy to tackle the issues, rather than just hoping for the best.

“I recognise that more patients are being registered, but when patients go to a dental practice, they should be able to expect the very highest standard of treatment.”

Ray Watkins, consultant in dental health for NHS Grampian, said the rise was “disappointing” but added that many more people had access to an NHS dentist last year.