‘Utterly reckless’ – support funds for Scottish NHS practices to be scrapped

All emergency support for NHS dental practices in Scotland will be withdrawn from AprilAll emergency support for NHS dental practices in Scotland will be withdrawn from April, sparking outrage from the profession. 

Cabinet Secretary Humza Yousaf announced the government will scrap support funding from 1 April 2022 after stating that pre-pandemic systems are the only ‘practical’ way for dentistry to recover.

In a letter to dental practices, he added that now is also not the right time to implement significant reform.

‘I believe that sustaining the pre-pandemic blended payments system is the only practical way to recover the sector and clear the patient backlog,’ he wrote.

‘Furthermore, I do not believe it would be prudent to introduce substantial reform in the midst of an uncertain period for the dental sector.

‘I take the view that recovering services require you to apply a business model that operates within the parameters of a pre-existing payment framework.’

‘Devastate’ services in Scotland

He also announced changes to the payment system for dentists that will come into play from 1 February 2022.

Yousaf described this as a period of ‘bedding in’ before withdrawing the financial measures on 1 April 2022.

The move has been slammed by the British Dental Association (BDA), which argues that the return will ‘devastate’ NHS services across Scotland.

‘Utterly reckless’

David McColl is chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee.

He said: ‘The Scottish Government seems set to pull the rug out from under every dedicated NHS dentist.

‘If ministers had an objective to decimate NHS dentistry, this approach would offer a great starting point. To signal the return of a “business as usual” model when the country is still in the grip of a pandemic is utterly reckless.

‘The net result will be to push colleagues out of the NHS and to leave this profession altogether.

‘Ministers put NHS dentistry front and centre in their pitch for government. To deliver on their promises we need real commitment. [We need to] find a new and better way for delivering for the patients that need us.’

While welcoming the changes to the payment system – largely covering the treatment of children – the association also suggest that the impact on capacity will be ‘negligible’.


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