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Dental group launches recruitment drive to fill Moray’s dentist gap

Bishopmill Dental Centre in Elgin when it first opened. Picture by Gordon Lennox/DCT Media.
Bishopmill Dental Centre in Elgin when it first opened. Picture by Gordon Lennox/DCT Media.

A dental group behind an Elgin practice has vowed to double its efforts to bring new dentists to the region.

Bishopmill Dental Centre was forced to write to more than 3,000 patients to tell them they would be de-registered.

Following the departure of two dentists earlier in the year, the practice needed to reduce its NHS patients.

Leading figures at Clyde Munro Dental Group, which acquired the practice in 2019, have been liaising with the Grampian Health Board to minimise the impact on its patients.

The two remaining dentists at the practice have committed to covering more than 12,000 patients.

Last week it was reported that every NHS dental practice in Moray is now closed to new patients due to staff shortages.

This means that potential patients are now facing lengthy trips to the Highlands or Aberdeenshire. But NHS practices in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are also struggling with staffing and demand.

‘Only a temporary position’

Jacqui Frederick, group clinical director at Clyde Munro, has apologised for removing patients from the register but explained it is “only a temporary position” for the practice.

She said: “We recognise the worry and anguish that those facing uncertainty with their NHS registrations will feel.

“We’re very sorry that we have had to do this, but it was imperative so that we could continue to provide appropriate care – including emergency cover to the remaining 12,000 NHS patients on the books at Bishopmill Dental Centre.

“This is only a temporary position for us – and we will do all we can to get cover back to those patients as soon as we possibly can.”

The number of dentists in the UK has fallen to the lowest point in years and Ms Frederick believes the recruitment crisis is “particularly felt in rural areas” like Elgin.

According to the dental group it can be more difficult to find dentists in areas like Elgin as it “requires relocation or a long commute”.

The dental group has invested in digital technology in rural practices – including in  Bishopmill – and is now embarking on a major recruitment campaign, encouraging dentists to “make the move”.

The group is also preparing to launch a training academy in Perth to help boost dentists throughout Scotland.

Ms Frederick added: “To support recruitment we have increased our group-wide intake of vocational dental practitioners, and are looking at ways to recruit from abroad.

“We are also looking to our existing dentists, hygienists, and therapists to help out as possible in the meantime.”

Moray patients left ‘very anxious’

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead, who shared concerns at the news last week, said he has been “inundated” by constituents who have been de-registered by the Bishopmill Dental Centre.

He said these patients have been left feeling “very anxious”, but described the dental group’s efforts to fill the gap as “encouraging”.

“I spoke to the chief executive of NHS Grampian today about the need to attract more NHS dentists to Moray,” Mr Lochhead said.

“It is, therefore, encouraging that the operators of Bishopmill Dental Centre are doing what they can to attract dentists as well.”

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