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Last Updated: Monday, 26 January, 2004, 12:50 GMT
Cash fills gap in dental services
Dentist and patient
Dental services have been hit particularly in rural areas
More than 1m has been earmarked to help ease the crisis in dental services in Scotland.

A shortage of dentists, particularly in rural areas, has led to major problems.

But on Monday, Deputy Health Minister Tom McCabe pledged the 1.5m would be used to "ensure that more people have access to quality NHS dental care."

As well as the money, Mr McCabe has also announced a wide-ranging consultation on the future of NHS dentistry in Scotland.

Problems came to a head when dentist Kenny Jones opened a practice in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, and was besieged by 1,500 prospective patients.

Further out in the Western Isles, residents face a trip to the mainland if they get a toothache after the only dental practice on Lewis closed its doors.

Mr McCabe promised to turn things around and pointed out a number of additional services already set up through the Primary Care Modernisation Fund.

Measures include:

  • A new walk-in treatment centre in Edinburgh

  • Improved emergency access in Tayside, Caithness and Sunderland

  • A dedicated new facility in Orkney

  • Extensions to primary care facilities in Highland to accommodate dentistry

  • And dental outreach training initiatives in Greater Glasgow, Renfrew and Inverclyde

The funding move follows increasing reports of dentists deregistering patients and increasing private work, a shortage of dentists willing to work in rural areas and increasing pressure on hospital dental services to pick up emergency cases normally seen by the GP.

Canvass views

Mr McCabe said: "Over the past few months the executive has announced a number of short term measures to improve the recruitment and retention of dentists and upgrade or expand premises.

"This money brings the total invested in NHS dentistry since 2002 to over 10m.

"It will be used to ensure that more people have access to quality NHS dental care."

The minister is also keen to canvass the views of the public about current dentistry services.

Speaking in Stirling on Monday, at the first of a series of consultation meetings, Mr McCabe called on dental professionals and the public to air their views.

He said: "I look forward to hearing the views of NHS staff, dentists and the public over the coming months."

Action call over dental services
19 Jan 04  |  Scotland
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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