The British Dental Association has warned the Scottish Government must step up to prevent a wholesale exodus from the service in April, following new figures from the Scottish Liberal Democrats suggesting an 8% fall in the number of NHS dentists since lockdown.
The professional body warns that dentists have little sense of what payment system they will be working to come 1 April. On 1 October the Scottish Government cut the ‘multiplier’ designed to support the pandemic recovery, that increased NHS fees by 1.3. A lower bridging payment’ took effect uplifting NHS fees at a rate of 1.2 for the next three months, falling to 1.1 for the period up to April 2023.
While COVID emergency measures have been withdrawn, practices continue to face an historic backlog, with many patients requiring more extensive treatment having bottled up problems during the pandemic.
The BDA say that in the weeks ahead progress must be made to deliver needed change to the broken high volume/low margin model NHS dentistry is based on. Without reform it stresses we will see a further flight of dentists from the NHS that is already evident in other UK nations.
Facing surging practice running costs, the BDA says that without an adequate interim funding package several key treatments, and anything – like dentures – that requires laboratory work, risk being delivered at a financial loss.
Robert Donald, Chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Council said:
“Ministers need to understand that Scotland can’t have NHS dentistry without NHS dentists.
“Today colleagues have little sense of what the future will bring when the last pandemic support is pulled away.
“What they do know is this service hasn’t bounced back, and that some NHS treatments are now being delivered at a loss. “The Scottish Government needs to make a serious long-term commitment to prevent a wholesale exodus from the NHS.”