McArthur raises dentistry funding concerns

Amidst ongoing fears over the future provision of NHS dental services across the country, Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has highlighted concerns about local implications in the islands.

Speaking at General Questions in the Scottish Parliament earlier today (Thursday), Mr McArthur said the recruitment and retention of NHS dental nurses in Orkney has become "exceptionally difficult" under the current funding model.

Orkney's MSP went on to highlight the disparity in terms and conditions for dental nurses providing NHS dental services in different parts of the service.  He called on the Public Health Minister, Maree Todd, to look at how these could be brought more into line with each other, including offering the same pension provision.

In response, the Minister for Public Health confirmed she would look into the matter, adding "we need the whole of the dental service to recover."

It follows warnings from the British Dental Association in Scotland this week that Scottish Ministers "seem asleep at the wheel" with more than a third of dentists saying they intend to leave the profession in the next 12 months.  In November, Mr McArthur urged the Health Secretary to "think again" on ending emergency funding due to be withdrawn from 1 April.

Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said:

"At a time when dental services are under enormous pressure to restore access after the pandemic, they are being asked by Scottish Ministers to operate with a funding model that is not fit for purpose.

"In my discussions with local dentists in Orkney, I have heard directly of the impact these funding decisions are having on the ability to recruit and retain support staff, notably dental nurses.  The situation is not helped by the significant difference in terms and conditions on offer to those working in dental practices compared to their counterparts in the public dental service.

"The sector has consistently warned that plans to end emergency funding will devastate dental services across the country.  These calls cannot simply be ignored.

"I welcome the Minister's commitment, therefore, to look into these arrangements.  Hopefully this will allow steps to be taken to ensure dental nurses providing NHS cover, wherever that might be, are treated equally."

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