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Scottish dentists warn of collapse of NHS services unless Government intervenes

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More than 600 dentists across Scotland have signed a letter urging the Scottish Government to intervene amid the Covid-19 outbreak to prevent NHS dental services being “decimated”.

Practitioners, from all over Scotland, including the north and north east, have written to the Health Minister, Jeane Freeman, with an urgent request for greater financial support.

It follows the directive from the chief dental officer earlier this week that NHS surgeries will no longer be able to provide face-to-face patient care.

The letter, written by Dr Gillian Lennox of Forth Valley’s local dental committee, reads: “The economic impact of this crisis will continue for years.

“Overnight, practices have seen their incomes decimated.

“Every other health care sector, apart from dentistry, has received a fair funding package. Every other sector has financial stability for their staff and themselves.

“We do not. And if practitioners are left bankrupt, ultimately it will be patients who lose out.

“It is essential there is a fully functional dental service at the end of this crisis or we risk the dental health of the population being pushed back a generation.

“We’re all in this together, but GDPs feel forgotten about in the healthcare system.”

Scottish Conservative north-east MSP, Liam Kerr, said: “We are extremely lucky to have such dedicated staff working for our NHS to help and protect us all during these worrying times as well as those in the private sector.

“Dentists play a key part in patient care across the north-east and it’s vital that we support them at all times.

“They are asking for assurances from the Scottish Government that dental practices will be protected after this outbreak and I would hope ministers act swiftly to address these funding concerns.

“This letter shows dentists feel abandoned at a time when they remain a huge part of our health service in times of need.”

North-east Labour MSP, Lewis Macdonald, added: “Dentists, dental nurses and dental therapists are all highly skilled professionals, who can make a huge contribution to acute care in these challenging times.

“It is important that dental practices are not forced to close altogether, so partners need to know what schemes they can use to keep businesses from going to the wall.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We know that the Covid-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on all areas of our health service, including dental practices.

“That’s why we set out financial support measures for NHS dental practices on March 17 and why we have deployed the budget for NHS dental services to ensure the financial sustainability of practices while routine dental care is suspended.

“We understand the additional concerns of practices who rely more on income from fee-paying NHS patients, and recognise that these practices will be adversely affected despite the financial support measures already put in place.

“We are therefore carefully considering this particular issue and working closely with the profession to address these concerns.”

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