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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 19:43 GMT 20:43 UK
'Golden hellos' to fill dentist gap
There are 139 dental vacancies in Scotland
Cash incentives are to be offered to new dentists in an attempt to recruit and retain staff in the NHS, the Scottish Executive has announced.

A "golden hello" package will seek to encourage more dentists to work within the NHS and improve access to dental services in remote and rural Scotland.

Extra cash will also be offered to existing practices which offer training places to new graduates.

The initial 1m package is aimed at helping to reduce the chronic shortage of dentists in Scotland, where there are currently 139 vacancies.

Key measures include:

  • Providing allowances of 3000 to each newly-qualified dentists taking up their training year in remote and rural areas

  • Offering grants of up to 10,000 to dentists anywhere in Scotland offering a training place to a newly-qualified dentist

  • Providing allowances of 5000 over two years to dentists who have completed their vocational training and who are entering an NHS dental services practice

  • Providing allowances of 10,000 over two years to those taking up similar posts in remote and rural areas

  • Providing funding to support a vocational training place for every dental graduate in Scotland.

The new package was unveiled at Glasgow Dental School by Deputy Health Minister Mary Mulligan.

It seeks to "reward a dentist's commitment to the NHS".

Shortages across the country are made more difficult in some areas, such as the Highlands, by some practitioners only offering adults private treatment.

Ms Mulligan said: "Ensuring that people have access to local NHS dental treatment is an important part of that process.

'First step'

"We have been aware for some time that there are difficulties in some parts of Scotland in recruiting and retaining practitioners to work in general dental services, particularly in remote and rural parts of Scotland.

"And some dentists have chosen to reduce their commitment to the NHS."

Alastair MacLean, Scottish Secretary of the British Dental Association, welcomed the initiatives.

He said: "The BDA would regard this as a first step in addressing what we believe are increasingly acute dental workforce shortages in Scotland."

See also:

25 Apr 02 | Health
Plans to retain women dentists
25 Apr 02 | Scotland
GPs' treatment role expanded
17 Apr 02 | Education
Dentistry attracts top students
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