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NHS Grampian accused of “coaching” dentists in how to respond to grant allegations

Richard Baker
Richard Baker

A senior manager at NHS Grampian has been coaching dentists in how to respond to claims they breached the terms of government grant aid.

The Press and Journal revealed yesterday that Britedent Clinic and West End Dental in Aberdeen, Portlethen Dental Care and Deeside Dental Care in Banchory are all the subject of a health board probe.

The board had previously confirmed the Green Dental Practice in Portlethen was also being investigated.

Between them they have received more than £700,000 from the Scottish Dental Access Initiative, which provides funding to set up new practices on the condition 80% of their business comes from NHS patients for seven years.

The Press and Journal has now seen a copy of an e-mail, sent to one of the practices, which gives advice about how they should respond to media inquiries.

The e-mail – sent by Patricia Morgan, a primary care contracts manager based at Woodend Hospital’s Westholme clinic in Aberdeen – says: “I am aware the P&J are speaking with a group of practices which were given to them as a result of an FOI enquiry.

“If they are in touch with you I would suggest that you respond something like;

“I am co-operating fully with NHS Grampian to clarify and resolve any potential concerns that they may have identified.

“I would keep it minimal and not get involved in discussion with the reporter at this stage. We are aware that this will be in the press tomorrow.”

North-east Labour MSP Richard Baker said the e-mail raised questions over the health board’s commitment to ensuring the grant terms were complied with.

He said: “The Press and Journal has been right to highlight this issue as it is of serious concern, not just to the dental industry, but also in the wider community in the north-east.

“NHS Grampian’s priority in this instance should be transparency on this issue to show the public that all measures are being taken to ensure the terms of the grant are being adhered to – and where they are not being adhered to, the funds should be returned to the health board and invested into other areas of health care.”

Last night, the health board said there was nothing unusual about sending the e-mail.

A spokeswoman said: “We regularly communicate with our primary care providers on a whole range of matters, offering support and advice where necessary.”

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