Dentists welcome £5 million investment to help Scottish practices

Dentists welcome £5 million investment to help Scottish practicesThe Scottish government confirmed £5 million will be allocated to practices to boost investment in ventilation. 

The funding comes as part of a plan to future proof dental services following the backlog crisis exacerbated by COVID-19.

This means England is now the only UK nation not to have committed any capital funding for ventilation to help restore services.

Dramatic reduction

Tom Ferris, the chief dental officer for Scotland, confirmed the money can be used to purchase, renew or upgrade ventilation systems.

Practices can also claim retrospectively for the period between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2022.

According to Public Health Scotland, there has been a dramatic reduction in the amount of NHS dentistry delivered.

For example between April and November 2020, the number of courses of treatment delivered was 83% lower than during the same period in 2019.

Access crisis

The BDA is awaiting details of the conditions within the funding initiative. However it has expressed concern that it may not cover practices who have already installed portable units or air cleaners (such as HEPA filters) when there were few other options in the short term.

David McColl is chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish dental practice committee.

‘This is a no-brainer from the Scottish Government,’ he said.

‘Investment in ventilation can future proof Scotland’s dental services, boost patient numbers, and pay for itself.

‘We must avoid half measures. Many dentists have had no option but to buy portable systems to get patients back through their doors. Ministers must ensure they do not lose out.

‘For our patients’ sake, this needs to mark a turning point when it comes to providing ongoing support to practices. Access to services has fallen off a cliff. A signature policy on free dentistry for all will be a promise that can’t be kept unless we see real commitment from ministers.’

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