Readers' Letters: NHS Scotland dental check-up cuts are a pain in the wallet

This week I had my six-monthly check up at my dentists, and thankfully, all was well. However, when I went to book my next check-up, which I expected would be in May, I was told the NHS contract now allows for just one check-up per year. If I wanted a check-up in six months I could book one privately for £55, which I duly did.
In 2021 Nicola Sturgeon vowed to abolish all NHS dentistry charges if the SNP was re-elected; this month the Scottish Government halved the number of check-ups to which patients are entitled, while hiking treatment costs (Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)In 2021 Nicola Sturgeon vowed to abolish all NHS dentistry charges if the SNP was re-elected; this month the Scottish Government halved the number of check-ups to which patients are entitled, while hiking treatment costs (Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
In 2021 Nicola Sturgeon vowed to abolish all NHS dentistry charges if the SNP was re-elected; this month the Scottish Government halved the number of check-ups to which patients are entitled, while hiking treatment costs (Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Upon further investigation, I found that this cutback is being broached as follows on the NHS website: “From 1 November 2023, you may notice that there are some changes to the way your NHS dental treatment is delivered. Your dentist will determine how often you should have a NHS dental examination based on your treatment needs to ensure the best possible care. This may range from less than 6 months to every 2 years. If you are seen less often than 12 months then this is a sign of good oral health. It is important that you attend when recommended and don’t miss appointments.”

We know that we have serious problems with dental health in Scotland, but surely cutting back NHS check-ups to yearly for most people means missing opportunities to identify not just tooth and gum problems early, but mouth and tongue cancer?

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The SNP government’s reasoning seems like another excuse for back door privatisation of NHS dentistry. Just call it is as it is. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

Steven Robertson, Musselburgh, East Lothian

Safe hands

The reason Michael Matheson is in charge of the NHS is that he is a safe pair of hands (Martin Redfern, Letters, 28 November). Under his stewardship only Scotland’s NHS avoided damaging strikes and remains the best performing in the UK with more dentists, doctors, nurses and hospital beds per head of population than in Tory England or Labour-run Wales. Last week he announced an additional 153 trainee doctor posts would be created next year in what will be the largest annual expansion on record.

Objectively, Gerald Edwards (Letters, same day) and others should be comparing SNP performance with that in England and Wales or with the previous Labour/Lib Dem Scottish executive that returned £1,500 million to London as they couldn’t spend it in Scotland. Under the SNP we have the best public services in the UK, including 300 police officers per 100,000 compared to 242 in England and Wales. Scotland invests more per person in education and more than 1,000 schools have been built or upgraded. We have more teachers per pupil and they are better paid. The number of Higher passes is at a record level since devolution began, and the number of Advanced Higher passes is the highest since they were introduced in 2001. Also, the percentage of school leavers going on to education, training or employment has significantly increased under the SNP.

The gap between those from the most deprived and least deprived areas has narrowed, and is now at a record low. Thanks to the SNP government’s actions it has reduced by two-thirds compared to 2009/10 and the £25 a week Scottish Child Payment is widely recognised as a game changer in tackling poverty.

However, with the full powers of a normal country, we could do so much better.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Escape UK

I find Brian Barbour’s perspective in his letter (27 November) very difficult to comprehend. He mentions failures of the SNP such as not setting up a Scottish energy company but doesn’t seem to question the UK Government not doing so, despite energy being a retained power.

Instead UK Governments sold off all our oil and gas resources to private companies, leaving us exposed to extreme energy price increases after the Russia/Ukraine conflict with very adverse resultant effects including huge inflation. He doesn’t suggest the UK Government should be taking public ownership of the Grangemouth refinery despite the UK already having insufficient refinery capacity.

He mentions the BBC being soft on the Scottish Government’s underperformance yet mentions the ferries which are never out of the BBC news, unlike the London underground, HS2 etc.

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He mentions cuts to local authorities finances but makes no mention of UK Government economic austerity policies imposed since 2010, specifically to reduce public spending and which directly affects funding available to the Scottish Government.

These policies have reduced resources and the salary values including in education and in the NHS, resulting in strikes in England. NHS strikes would have caused huge suffering in Scotland and cost the Scottish economy millions if they hadn’t been avoided due to negotiations with the unions by the Scottish Government – negotiations under the leadership of the Health Secretary, Michael Matheson.

That’s not something mentioned much by the BBC, although I’m sure I have heard Michael Matheson’s name mentioned the odd time on the BBC recently.

It is urgent we gain independence before the UK Government privatises our NHS, further damages our public services and continues to privatise our green energy, defiling our beautiful country with huge pylons to enable private companies to provide electricity to England.

Jim Stamper, Bearsden, Glasgow


Kenny MacAskill, on behalf of the Scottish Parliament, had the bright idea of creating Police Scotland on the pretence of saving money and efficiency. Since its creation there have been four Chief Constables and as many Chairs of the SPA. On Radio Scotland recently, Scottish Police Federation General Secretary David Kennedy confirmed numbers are reducing to the extent that “people may die”. And there is a multi-million black hole.

We know Police Scotland was a political move, nothing to do with the finances of a police service, nothing to do with morale, but all to do with political control – and look at the shambles.

The current Chief has been in post for a matter of weeks, hugely experienced, highly respected and on an eye-watering salary but last week, so soon, had to apologise for “an error of judgment”. We know there is no accountability in SNP Land but who appoints these people? Who is responsible for having appointed four Chief Constables and SPA Chairs in nine years?

Scotland has been failed. Devolution has failed, the money wasted on this “experiment” could solve all of Scotland’s ills. All this “experiment” has done is create a massively lucrative political business for failing politicians, SPADS, advisers, hangers-on, entertainers/columnists/academics on the back of a failed nationalist ideology. What a shambles indeed.

Douglas Cowe, Kingseat, Aberdeenshire

Listen to all

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Joyce McMillan bemoans far-right election victories in Argentina and in what she calls “the outwardly sensible Netherlands” (Perspective, 24 November).

When ordinary voters feel that moderate mainstream politicians aren’t listening to them any more, they frequently turn in desperation to minority fringe parties which tend to offer attractively simple “solutions”. This occurred recently in the Nordic countries and Italy, and happened in Scotland back in 2007 when the SNP took over the devolved administration.

Peering from his motorcade en route to the British-Irish Council meeting at the weekend, the First Minister may have glimpsed the Dublin city centre clear-up operation after Thursday night’s disturbances.Riots and looting on this scale were unprecedented in the state’s 102-year history. This appalling civil disorder took place mainly because a small but growing minority feel marginalised by socio-economic conditions and what they perceive to be – rightly or wrongly – a lax asylum system.But how ironic to hear that it was apparently a courageous Brazilian delivery man who overpowered the attacker whose savage assault on children and staff at an Irish language Gael Scoil was the pretext for the disorder.

This event was swiftly taken advantage of by criminal elements and tricolour-waving xenophobes as they torched public transport and assaulted Gardaí arriving on the scene; the city was a tinderbox just awaiting a spark for ignition.

It’s entirely right to condemn and prosecute the perpetrators of such wanton mob violence. However, ignoring festering root causes of events like this solves nothing. In order to dissuade people from listening to extremist demagogues of any shade, all legitimate concerns must be acknowledged and addressed by democratic leaders.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Sunny prospects

Ian McNicholas (Letters, 28 November) refers to my letter of 26 November in which I was responding to a letter from Clark Cross.

I've said many times that present attempts to stop global warming by reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases will fail, for no other reason than that China is bent on increasing its already high output. Without a drastic plan, civilisation will crumble on an uninhabitable hothouse planet, with drowned coastal cities and wild weather.

The only salvation is to reduce insolation, that is, solar radiation, and that can only be done with geoengineering. It won't take much to bring the overall temperature down. Several methods have been proposed, including one by an Edinburgh professor of Engineering, Stephen Salter, with his Marine Cloud Brightening.

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This is not quite “shading”; it's reflecting more sunlight back into space, so producing a slight increase in Earth's albedo, the fraction of light that a surface reflects.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

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