Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant has said this week that she is fighting for constituents who wish to have a normal dental service on the Western Isles following growing concern about dentistry in the region.
Mrs Grant has contacted both NHS Western Isles and the IJB on behalf of concerned constituents.
Mrs Grant said: “The patient registration figures from the Information Services Division have long claimed an 80% registration rate for the Western Isles population.
“These figures have been found to be at odds with a Freedom of Information request to the Western Isles Health Board.
“Under the Freedom of Information request the figures are 50.6% in Lewis and 53.2% on the Western Isles as a whole.
“This distortion reflects the confusion surrounding the Government’s statistics and indeed their legislation.”
She contineud: “In 2011 NHS Western Isles opened a Dental Centre which they claimed to be one of the most significant healthcare developments in the past decade.
“However given Government constraints there has been difficulties attracting and retaining dentists.”
Mrs Grant added: “The situation facing dental patients in Stornoway is desperate given the figures we are seeing now and the difficulties in attracting and retaining dentists, and I fear that the SNP is trying to push down the road towards private dentistry in the Islands.
“This, in conjunction with the unacceptable situation surrounding the sudden announcement to close Lochboisdale dental practice, just seems to be adding to the pain and suffering of those seeking a normal dental service on the Islands.”
Addressing concerns by Western Isles residents on the matter NHS Western Isles told the Gazette: “The figure generated by Information Services Division Scotland of 80 per cent registration was not produced or claimed by NHS Western Isles.
“This figure appears to include both active patients and those lists awaiting transfer and NHS Western Isles was not given an opportunity to review the figures before their publication.
“Furthermore, NHSWI does not ‘submit’ registration figures to the Scottish Government as each dentist operates a ‘list number’ which the Scottish Dental Practice Board uses to record activity and monitor payments.
“When dentists leave an area or retire, their list can be transferred, disbanded, or placed in abeyance.
“Following staff reductions NHS Western Isles elected to put some patient lists in abeyance for possible transfer to a new dentist. Immediate transfer was ruled out as our existing dentists already have large lists.”
A fuller statement from NHS Western Isles on the issue can be viewed: here