McArthur meets with Health Minister to discuss dental provision in Orkney

6 Jun 2024
Liam McArthur MSP discussing dentistry in parliament

Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has today met with the Scottish Government’s Public Health Minister, Jenni Minto, to discuss ongoing issues with the provision of dental services in the islands.

Mr McArthur raised the particular challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining dentists and other staff, essential to building capacity and in turn the confidence of the wider public that local dental services can meet their needs.

In response, the Minister committed to engaging with NHS Orkney and local dentists to discuss how to help support the improvement of dental provision in the islands. Ms Minto also acknowledged the need to look at how allowances might be used to incentivise recruitment specifically in island areas.

The meeting followed an earlier cross-party roundtable in which rural and island MSPs raised the particular challenges facing rural and island dentistry, and the impact this is having on the health and wellbeing of people in these communities.

Commenting after the exchange, Mr McArthur said:

“I’m very grateful to the Minister and her officials for their willingness to engage with me on this issue. Indeed, as an MSP representing islands herself, I know Jenni Minto has first-hand experience of some of the challenges I set out in an Orkney context.

“In order to build capacity to meet local need, recruitment and retention of dentists and staff remains crucial. Previously, this has been achieved, in part, using targeted incentives that reflect the additional costs involved in relocating to the islands. Those incentives no longer operate in the same way and with demand for dentists and dental staff at an all-time high this has left Orkney at a disadvantage.

“Learning from what has worked in the past, I encouraged the Minister to look again at specific incentives for recruitment and retention in island practices. She has agreed to consider this in consultation with the British Dental Association as part of a wider assessment of allowances and I welcome that commitment.

“We also discussed the need to protect the welfare and wellbeing of staff in the sector. I understand the frustration felt by the public at delays in getting appointments. This situation won’t be helped, however, if staff leave the profession due to abuse or poor treatment at work. They deserve to be treated with respect and this is a message I hope NHS Orkney and the Scottish Government will reinforce, while also redoubling efforts to build up the much-needed capacity.

“This was certainly a productive meeting but the need for improvement is urgent and so I will continue to pursue these issues with the Minister and NHS Orkney over the coming months”.

This website uses cookies

Like most websites, this site uses cookies. Some are required to make it work, while others are used for statistical or marketing purposes. If you choose not to allow cookies some features may not be available, such as content from other websites. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.

Essential cookies enable basic functions and are necessary for the website to function properly.
Statistics cookies collect information anonymously. This information helps us to understand how our visitors use our website.
Marketing cookies are used by third parties or publishers to display personalized advertisements. They do this by tracking visitors across websites.