An NHS dental chief says the waiting list in Brae is falling – following criticism from a patient who has instead had to take private care.
Brian Chittick said 87 adults were waiting for examinations at the Delting practice, which has fallen by about 20 in the last two weeks.
The dental director said three dentists, two therapists and a hygienist were working in Brae and “we’re using a variety of clinicians to try and get down the waiting list”.
In a letter penned to The Shetland Times last week, Nesting resident Cecilia James slammed the Brae clinic and said the service “appears to have almost collapsed”.
Miss James said she was unable to book an annual check-up and was “astounded” she could not have an appointment.
Mr Chittick said there was capacity in Lerwick for patients to receive treatment and the Lerwick Dental Practice was predominantly offering NHS treatment.
“We’ve provided choice in Shetland so if you’re not happy with waiting times then you can access independent care from a high street practice [in Lerwick],” explained Mr Chittick.
He said patients had to re-register with a new clinician at a new practice and this was the same right across Scotland.
And, as far as he was aware there was capacity in Lerwick.
“We’ve now recruited some dentists which is relieving pressure on other parts of the service so resources can go where they need to go,” said Mr Chittick.
He said a dentist had moved from Lerwick back to Brae and provision had been boosted in the North Isles. A locum had also started in Lerwick this week, he added, helping to tackle workloads at the Montfield and St Olaf Street practices.
Recently the health board has been encouraging patients to contact their dentist if they cannot attend appointments, this NHS Shetland has said, means the time can be better used.
In January in Brae, Mr Chittick said there had been the equivalent of 90 check-ups of missed appointments.
There was also a shift in how often low-level patients needed check-ups, he said.
This was moving away from six-month check-ups to a year or two years, depending on the judgment of dental staff.
The move was part of national guidelines, added Mr Chittick, with more of a focus on “self-maintenance” and oral hygiene.