Urgent meeting request over Island dental service

editorial image

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has requested a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robison, to discuss the delivery of dental services on South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist ahead of the closure of the consultation on the future of the local services.

The Western Isles Integrated Joint Board agreed on a new model for the delivery of dental services on South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist earlier this year.

It is proposed to close the existing dental practices at Lochmaddy and Liniclate, with Lochboisdale having closed earlier this year, and centralise dental services within the local Uist and Barra Hospital in Benbecula.

Western Isles Integrated Joint Board stated at the time that the decision would be communicated to the Scottish Health Council, which would determine whether the proposed arrangements would constitute ‘major service change’.

If the Scottish Health Council did consider the new model for dental services ‘major service change’ then the case would be referred to Ministers of the Scottish Government.

However a report presented at the Western Isles Integrated Joint Board meeting held on 22nd June 2017 confirms that while integration authorities have a duty to consult and engage, ‘the Scottish Health Council has no ability to make a determination about major service change (and hence Scottish Ministers do not have a direct call-in power).’

Rhoda Grant said: “Given the widespread public opposition to this proposal I have been seeking an urgent meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Health but I appear to be being given the runaround.

“This proposal will leave some patients facing a 60 mile round trip for dental treatment which is simply not acceptable.

“There are calls to initiate a temporary moratorium on significant changes to healthcare services, at the very least, the Uist dental situation, until the rules have been amended so the decisions of integration authorities are made accountable.

Mrs Grant continued: “I want to discuss this urgently with the Cabinet Secretary before any more local services are closed and I will keep pursuing her on this.”