Monday, November 14, 2005


Their nationalized health insurance is supposed to cover Scots for dentistry but getting what you have paid for is of course a problem whenever you cannot take your business elsewhere

The crisis in Scotland’s dental services was underlined yesterday when it emerged that more than 57,000 Scots have had their registration with an NHS dentist withdrawn in the past two years. The figures was described as “shocking and unacceptable” by opposition parties and were revealed only weeks after the Scottish Executive announced that 32 dentists from Poland were to be recruited next year in an attempt to close the growing gap in provision. In 2002, 24,844 Scots were deregistered and this year already, the figure has reached 32,713....

Ms Marwick said the figures supported the anecdotal evidence that many MSPs were receiving from constituents about the problems they are facing in their search for dental treatment. “Withdrawing NHS services from patients is only deepening the crisis facing dentistry in Scotland, increasing the number of people who do not have an NHS dentist and are unable to pay for private treatment,” she said. Ms Marwick added: “There are thousands of people, both young and old, in Scotland who are entitled to free NHS dentistry who now cannot find a dentist prepared to treat them.”

As well as the influx of Polish dentists to Scotland, the Executive, which has pledged to recruit 200 dentists by 2008, disclosed that several of the country’s health boards were in talks with an independent health company to provide NHS dental treatment in those areas facing the most severe service problems.

Over the past year in parts of Scotland there have been repeated scenes of hundreds of people queueing to register with a dentist. Thousands of people throughout the country have been forced to re-register as private patients after their dental practice opted out of the health service. Scotland’s dentists have rejected a £295 million package from the Executive that would have allowed thousands of people the opportunity of treatment on the NHS. The Dental Action Plan was intended to help to lure dentists back from the private sector, but talks broke down after the British Dental Association said that the package would force its members to treat a set number of adults on the NHS before receiving the money.

The Executive sees the level of commitment to the NHS from the dentists as the main stumbling block to resolving the situation. The association maintains that it rejects the ministers’ “all-or nothing” approach and it has dismissed the Executive’s recruiting drive in Poland as “a short-term measure”. The Executive is committed to giving all Scots a free dental check-up by 2007, an initiative to be phased in over the next 18 months — putting even more pressure on dentists working within the NHS. It pointed out last night that the statistics showed only the number of people who had been deregistered and did not take into account the number of Scots who had re-registered elsewhere.

Mr Macdonald said that it was disappointing that some dentists chose to deregister NHS patients. “Patients should feel free to tell dentists what they think about that decision,” he said. “We announced a massive funding package earlier this year — an extra £295 million over three years — and no other government in history has invested so much in Scotland’s dental care. “We have always acknowledged that the current difficulties around accessing NHS dental services would not be solved over night.”

More here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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