NHS dentistry Scotland: Four in five Scottish dentists refuse to see new NHS patients
Four out of every five NHS dentists in Scotland are not accepting new adult patients for treatment on the health service, new research has found.
As part of the study, the BBC contacted nearly 7,000 NHS practices across the UK. The survey found the majority of NHS dental practices in the UK were unable to offer appointments to new adult patients.
The British Dental Association (BDA) and BBC identified 8,533 UK dental practices that were believed to hold NHS contracts, and attempts were made to call them all.
In Scotland, 82 per cent were not accepting new patients.
Areas were the investigation could not find a single practice taking on new adult or child NHS patients were Dundee, Midlothian, Dumfries and Galloway, Moray, Orkney, South Ayrshire and the Western Isles.
The Scottish Government said more than 95 per cent of the population were registered with an NHS dentist, adding the dental workforce in Scotland (54 dentists per 100,000 population) was stronger than in England (42 per 100,000 population).
The BDA has called on the Government to give short-term funding support to dentists to tackle the Covid backlog.
Last month BDA Scotland warned the Government risked undermining the future sustainability of NHS dentistry, as they scaled down vital financial support for the service.
David McColl, who chairs the British Dental Association's Scottish dental practice committee, said: "The Scottish Government promised free NHS dentistry for all, but the public are now living with the harsh reality.
"You can't run a health service on soundbites and slogans. Ministers need to take a long, hard look at the evidence and bring forward the reforms and resources we need to deliver for patients across Scotland."
A spokesperson for the Government said: "The number of people using dentists has risen sharply since Covid restrictions were reduced – a trend that is projected to continue in the coming months – meaning backlogs can be cleared and more people can access these vital services.
"The longer-term trend shows an increase of 32 per cent in dentists providing NHS dental services for the period 2007 to 2022 despite the incredibly challenging pandemic period, with disruptions to the education and training of dentists."
The issue was seen across many parts of the UK – across England, 91 per cent of NHS practices were not accepting new adult patients.
Of those practices not taking on adults in England, 23 per cent (1,124) said they had an open waiting list, and 16 per cent (791) said the wait time was a year or longer, or were unable to say how long it would be.
Out of 152 local authorities in England, BBC researchers did not successfully reach any practices accepting new adult NHS patients in 56 (37 per cent) local authorities.
The calls made found that across Northern Ireland, 90 per cent of NHS practices were not accepting new adult patients.
The figure for Wales was 93 per cent.
The BDA previously said since March 2020, some 3,000 dentists were understood to have moved away from NHS work entirely.