Joe FitzPatrick Public Health Minister has described waits for dental patients needing hospital treatment as ‘unacceptable’.

More than 1,000 patients across Scotland have missed the 12-week treatment target in the last four years.

NHS Highland is experiencing a 10-fold increase over the same time period.

‘I do accept that some of the waits that we know about – particularly some of the more challenging cases – are entirely unacceptable,’ Mr Fitzpatrick said.

‘Particularly when you are talking about children who are often in pain.’

Real-terms cut

BDA Scotland is blaming shortage of staff and a failure of regular check-ups as the reason behind waiting times.

It claims the number of patients registered with a dentist has fallen significantly over the last few years.

In 2014, 76% of people were registered with a dentist, which has dropped to below 70% in 2018.

‘People who are failing to attend the dentist for regular check-ups are requiring more complex treatment on referral,’ a BDA Scotland spokesperson said.

‘The government has set a draft budget in which general dental services will increase by 0.2%, meaning a real-terms cut.

‘We know that across Scotland there are huge challenges filling dental consultant vacancies.

‘The result is patients are left waiting.

‘We continue to argue that if prevention is the focus, as outlined in the Scottish government’s Oral Health Improvement Plan, then there needs to be the right investment and resources put into dentistry.

‘To date only two of the 41 actions outlined in the OHIP have been completed.

‘We have called on Scottish government to ensure these actions are achievable, backed with real investment.

‘And that the dental profession is fully involved in their implementation.’