Frustration at lack of resolution in Uist dental services dispute

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The Chair of Western Isles Intergration Joint Board (IJB) has expressed ‘frustration’ at the lack of progress in resolving the dispute over the future of Uist dental health services, and has called for the dispute to move to the next phase in the resolution process with a decision to come before the Boards next meeting in March.

Councillor Kenny John MacLeod said: “It is frustrating that twelve months down the line we are no closer to a resoltuion, and we have no indication that matter are moving forward. There does not seem to an end point to the first stage of the conflict resolution process and we should now move to the next stage of resolution and have a serious attempt a finding a decision on this.”

Nearly two years ago, the IJB considered an option for a single dental hub to be located in the Uist and Barra Hospital with additional outreach capabilities, as its preferred model for the future of the service, and a consultation process was begun.

But when the proposal was put to the IJB meeting in February 2018 and the recommendation for the preferred option was put to the vote, the vote was tied 4-4 between IJB members, and the dispute resolution process was triggered.

A report before last week’s meeting confirmed that: ‘the move from Lochboisdale to Liniclate did not see any reduction in activity from the dentist involved’, and stated: ‘instead, a steady growth in the registration list is evident, and a noticeable increase in the courses of treatment completed (CoTs). Neither has there been a substitution of patients from the other dentist based in Liniclate, who has also shown an increase in registrations and CoTs completed. Looking at the service overall, we see a 10.7per-cent increase in the number of CoTs’.

The report concluded: ‘In terms of registration, there was a decline in total registrations at the end of the summer in 2016; this followed the retirement of a dentist based in Liniclate. Registrations have now more than recovered to the level of early 2016 when four dentists were working in Uist’.

But, at last week’s meeting, IJB member, Councillor Norman A MacDonald, along with IJB Chair, Councillor MacLeod, expressed concerns that the report received did not contain the information they thought it would.

Cllr MacDonald said: “I expected to see an update on the use of the two mobile dentist chairs in this report, have these chairs gone out across Uist and Barra as was originally trailed, and are people happy with the service? That was a major part of my decision to support the original changes.”

Cllr MacLeod added: “I expected to see more detail than is in the report on the pop-up chairs. Are they still sitting wrapped in cling-film somewhere?

“This service is no doubt not as convenient as it was especially for the people of South Uist. I have concerns and frustrations over the lack of information.”

Dr Ron Culley, Chief Office rof the IJB highlighted that the use of the mobile chairs was also a part of the original plan, still awaiting decision, and as that had not be determined the mobile service had not been implemented.

The Board agreed that an updated report should also be available at its next meeting.