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Last Updated: Monday, 19 January, 2004, 11:38 GMT
Action call over dental services
Dentist and patient
Mr Rumbles wants a new dental school for the north east
An MSP is demanding reforms to the dental service after 600 people turned up in one day to register at a new surgery in the north east.

Dentist Kenny Jones was looking for 300 NHS patients when his new practice opened at the weekend in Stonehaven.

But Mr Jones had to draw the line at 600, saying there was no way he could take any more.

Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles said it highlighted the need for a dental school to be located in the north east.

Mr Rumbles also wants to see other reforms to the service.

There were people from all over the north-east, not just Stonehaven, and it's indicative of a situation I have been highlighting since I was elected
Mike Rumbles MSP
The MSP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine said he had warned Mr Jones that he would be "unindated" with people wanting to register.

He said: "Neither of us realised what the scenes would be like on Saturday."

The MSP said the queue began before 0900 GMT on Saturday but that by 1030 Mr Jones had to stop the queue from getting any longer.

The dentist, who previously practised in Aboyne, ended up taking double the amount of patients he had intended.

Mr Rumbles said: "There were people from all over the north-east, not just Stonehaven, and it's indicative of a situation I have been highlighting since I was elected."

Fewer dentists

He said the problem stemmed from a decision by the Tory government in the 1990s to close Edinburgh dental school, one of three in Scotland, which reduced the country's annual output of dentists from 160 to 120.

And the lack of a dental school in north east Scotland discouraged newly-qualified dentists from setting up in practice in the area.

"The partnership agreement between the Lib Dems and Labour last May included new provisions to help ease the current problems, such as an agreement to establish an outreach dental training centre in Aberdeen, and to consult on the possibility of establishing a full dental school", Mr Rumbles said.

Kenny Jones
Kenny Jones opened a practice in Stonehaven
"Clearly this situation in Stonehaven highlights the need to press with these measures and I will be raising this matter with Deputy Health Minister Tom McCabe at the earliest opportunity."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said: "We are aware that there are difficulties in recruiting and retaining dentists who provide services on the NHS, particularly in rural areas such as Grampian and Highland."

She said a consultation on modernising NHS dental service was due to close in March.

"In the meantime, we are committed to supporting NHS dental services and have invested substantially in a series of measures to support these services," she added.

Such measures included developing an "outreach" facility in Aberdeen, for which 100,000 had been earmarked.

And in November, funding worth 3.5m was announced to support NHS dental services, in addition to a "golden hello" package to help recruit and train dentists.


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Scotland's Colin Wight
"Dr Jones registered double the number of patients he expected"



SEE ALSO:
Bid to tackle rotten dental record
20 Nov 03  |  Scotland
Islands face dental crisis
11 Nov 03  |  Scotland
Rural dentists' allowance doubled
14 Mar 03  |  Scotland
'Golden hellos' to fill dentist gap
25 Apr 02  |  Scotland


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