Thousands of patients in the Western Isles are now benefiting from dental services for the first time in more than four years.
NHS Western Isles has brought an end to the region’s lengthy waiting list and more than 5,000 residents across Lewis and Harris are now registered with a qualified dentist.
It follows the closure of Bayhead Dental Practice in 2014 which left around 3,500 patients in Lewis unable to gain access to the service.
Despite efforts by the health board on numerous occasions to reduce the waiting list, it only continued to grow as the service suffered from retirements and dentists leaving the island.
However, following hard work by the NHS, the patient registration waiting list has now come to an end.
NHSWI Dental Service Director Colin Robertson said there was now a normal service across the west.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
He said: “The hard work isn’t over, but NHS Western Isles is now able to say with confidence normal service is resumed in Lewis and Harris.
“The days of waiting three years for registration are gone, and routine appointments are often available within a couple of weeks.”
The announcement comes as the first newly established dental practice on the island in 30 years prepares to open its doors.
Castleview Dental Practice, which currently operates from within the Western Isles Dental Centre, will transfer into their new clinical premises on Cromwell Street – giving around 4,500 patients on island access once again to essential service provided by the health board.
Mr Roberston added: “NHS Western Isles has made use of every resource available to it; not just relying on recruiting dentists, but building a team which uses therapists and hygienists to make the centre one of the busiest in Scotland.
“Stornoway now also has a new high street dentist with Castleview Dental Practice already operating from the WI Dental Centre before moving into their Cromwell Street clinic, which will be the first new practice to open here in 30 years.
“This co-operation between the Health Board and Castleview means that more than 5,000 patients now have a registered dentist again.”
Western Isles Council Leader Roddie MacKay said councillors were “delighted that NHS Western Isles has responded to the challenge” and were “pleased to hear the news there is now a comprehensive service now in force.”