Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has today (Monday) backed a call for the Cabinet Secretary for Health to launch an enquiry into the decision to centralise dental services in Uist.
This comes after Andrew Walker of the Uist Locality Planning Group (LPG) wrote to Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan asking that he contacts the Secretary, Jeane Freeman, following the decision taken by NHS Western Isles and the Comhairle to close dental practices at Lochmaddy and Liniclate (with Lochboisdale having already been closed) and centralise dental services in Benbecula.
Rhoda Grant said: “To issue this decision after almost three years of intense local objection flies in the face of local democracy.
“The Uist LPG made it clear to the Integration Joint Board (IJB) in November 2016, that after a comprehensive options appraisal exercise, there was strong backing for the retention of the three site provision, as existed at that time. This was reinforced by the Association of Community Councils, by a stakeholder event held in Lochboisdale, and by all local elected members serving at that time.
“The IJB at that stage pursued their own “preferred model” to centralise the services in Benbecula meaning that some people would have a 60 mile round trip to see a dentist.”
Mrs Grant sought a meeting with the then Health Secretary, Shona Robison, and backed the calls from the Editor of Am Paipear for a moratorium to be imposed on the IJB proposal to centralise the services in Benbecula.
Mrs Grant continued: “Good oral health is paramount to good general health and taking these dental services out of communities should be avoided at all costs.
“There is, quite rightly, outrage within the communities in Uist who stands to lose their local dentists. We need to decentralise services, not centralise them.
Mrs Grant concluded: “This decision is a shocking example of community opinion being totally ignored and I too will be writing to the Cabinet Secretary to ask her to launch an enquiry into this decision as a matter of urgency.”