Dental shortage

SHETLAND is among the rural areas hardest hit by a shortage of NHS dentists.

Figures released this week show 2,182 patients are on a waiting list for dental treatment in the isles.

That compares with around 1,500 in Orkney and 1,800 in the Western Isles.

In total over 82,000 people are waiting to see a dentist across Scotland, with rural areas hardest hit despite recent efforts to persuade more dentists to work in those areas.

Shetland’s chief dental officer Mike Collins said patients on a waiting list would still receive treatment if they needed it.

He added 120 to 130 hours were lost every month due to missed appointments.

“There are quite a lot of people on the waiting list for registration, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t get treatment. We will get them out of trouble, but it’s whether they then get continuing care.”

He added July stood out in particular, with 140 hours lost through missed appointments at the Montfield dental clinic in Lerwick alone.

“It doesn’t take a genius to work out we could see a lot more patients if appointments were kept.”

His comments follow a report in The Shetland Times earlier this year that some people hoping to register at Montfield were given a rough estimate of “three to four years” before they could be seen for a free dental check up.

In August the Scottish govern­ment announced a surprise £1.35 million package over the next four years to help boost dental services in the isles.

NHS Shetland will receive an extra £630,000 in 2009/10 and £720,000 in 2010/11 as part of a £75 million funding package to be rolled out across Scotland.

Mr Collins said Shetland’s proposal on how best to use the money is currently with the Scottish government.

NHS Shetland is expecting to hear back in the new year.


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