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Dentists warn that funding cuts will halt NHS work

[Press center6] time:2023-06-06 10:44:32 source:ABC News author:Press center5 click:155order

Basic dental treatments such as denture repairs will be scrapped for NHS patients as Scottish government funding is cut, the British Dental Association (BDA) has warned.

David McColl, chair of the BDA Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said some NHS services will need to be halted.

From Saturday, fees paid to NHS dentists to help with a backlog caused by the pandemic are being reduced.

But the Scottish government says it is offering continued financial support.

Mr McColl said: "Patients are going to notice that not everything is going to be available under the NHS.

"Humza Yousaf has said that this is all that's available for NHS dentistry. But we have to say that this is all that's going to be affordable for us come Monday."

He gave the example of a patient coming to his practice for a denture repair.

"The fee we pay to the lab is £26.40 and the fee the Scottish government will give to us to repair that and fund all of the staff and the business is £24.24.

"It's less than even the lab fee is. And they cannot expect us to fund a service at a loss."

A "multiplier" payment - of £1.70 per £1 of NHS work completed - was put in place in April to support the recovery of the dental sector following the Covid pandemic. This was cut to £1.30 in July.

Scotland's health secretary Humza Yousaf told dentists that financial aid would halt by October 1 as activity in the sector increased.

But amid concerns over the cost of living crisis and soaring business costs, a "bridging payment" was set up.

It will pay NHS dentists a multiplier of 1.2 until December before a rate of 1.1 is introduced until April.

Long-term reform to the system is expected to be unveiled in April but combined with rising costs from energy, wages and laboratory fees, dentists say patients will feel the impact now.

McColl is calling on the Scottish government to re-open talks with industry leaders on implementing immediate reforms.

He told BBC Scotland: "We don't want the NHS to fail. We believe in the NHS and we want it to work.

"The Scottish government really need to up their game."

Mr McColl, whose Govanhill dental clinic is in one of the country's most deprived areas, said that many practices will have to leave the NHS.

"At the end of the day they have a business to run," he said. "They've got staff wages to pay.

"They have to ensure that the business will survive because if the businesses don't survive there won't be any NHS dentistry."

A recent BBC investigation found four out of every five NHS dentists in Scotland are not accepting new adult patients for treatment on the health service.

Mr McColl also said young dentists were being put off providing NHS services.

"Young people coming into dentistry do not want to work in the NHS because they do not see the NHS as an attractive place to work," he added. "And that is really concerning."

Mr Yousaf defended the government's funding cuts.

He said ministers had provided more than £150m in additional support to the dentistry industry to help it cope with the effect of the pandemic.

He commented: "The 'multiplier' was introduced as a short-term measure to address the low activity levels in NHS dentistry and public health restrictions.

"While the dental sector is now performing well and public health restrictions are less severe for dentistry than previously, we now face the cost of living crisis.

"Therefore, I am offering the sector continued additional fee support for a temporary recovery period into next year to help tackle the threat high dental inflation, increasing lab fees and rising energy costs pose to dental teams."

(editor-in-charge:Press center2)

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