Is Scotland resuming full NHS dental services too soon? Yes, warn experts

The British Dental Association (BDA) Scotland is warning of increased pressure on dental practices and their financial sustainability

It follows the announcement that full NHS dental services will resume in Scotland from November 1.

While the BDA recognises the growing anxiety about an increasingly two-tier dental system in Scotland, it disagrees with expanding the range of dental services when virus transmission rates are increasing significantly.

The Scottish Government has also issued a revised Statement of Dental Remuneration (SDR) as a temporary measure for the next phase of reopening – with which the BDA disagrees, arguing that a return to the pre-COVID SDR is not appropriate at this time.

The BDA says it instead looks forward to working with the Scottish Government to develop a suitable long-term funding model for NHS dentistry.

While the BDA has welcomed additional support funding announced by the Scottish Government, it remains concerned about the sustainability of many practices who may not be able to meet the prescribed activity levels due to extenuating circumstances, such as staff shielding and illness reducing activity within the dental team.

“Full services are returning at a time when transmission rates are surging and nearly every practice is feeling the squeeze,” says David McColl, who is the chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee.  

“We were pleased that the Scottish Government addressed a number of our concerns about monitoring activity levels – such as extending the transitional period – but remain concerned about the financial implications and increased pressure on dental teams from 1 November.

“We will work with the Scottish Government on the measurement of activity to ensure that all practitioners and practices are recognised as having their own unique set of circumstances.”

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Lynda Hamilton Parker is a Scottish PR expert and independent publisher

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