A new dental practice will provide treatment for thousands in the Islands by 2016, with 1,200 people currently on the waiting list for an NHS dentist.
NHS Western Isles has accepted an application for a new three-surgery dental practice in the centre of Stornoway. The new practice aims to be prepared for 4,500 clients.
The new practice will provide NHS and private care, with the health board saying it will open early next year.
But the NHS has not yet released information as to the location or ownership of the practice, or how patients can register in advance.
The last dedicated surgery, Independent Dental Practice, closed down in July 2014. This left established dental care in the Western Isles in disarray.
The state had no option but to step in and assume the burden via interim NHS support.
In the meantime, the government will continue to lease premises at the Western Isles Dental Centre to temporary NHS dentists, with the health board providing in-hours and out-of-hours treatment.
Rhoda Grant, Scottish Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, welcomes the decision that will lead to an improved dental care service for the Islands.
“The dental service offered to communities in the Western Isles, has been sub-standard for too long,” said Mrs Grant, “and I am pleased to welcome any improvement.
“However, I understand that there are 1200 patients in the Western Isles waiting to access a dentist. So this development, whilst welcome, will only go a small way to solving a bigger problem and it continues to be the case, that there is still much to do to improve the health care services in the Western Isles.”
It is understood that patients previously registered with the dental practice at the Western Isles Dental Centre may apply for registration at this new practice, but no time scale for applications is available.
Funding towards the new surgery has been provided by the Scottish Government Dental Access Initiative.