MORE than three in four dental practices serving patients in Musselburgh are no longer accepting NHS patients.

Following up on concerns of Musselburgh residents, Sarah Boyack MSP contacted practices serving the Musselburgh area to inquire whether they were accepting new NHS patients.

Her findings also revealed those that were accepting new patients had waiting lists of over six months on average, Ms Boyack, Scottish Labour Lothian MSP, said.

East Lothian Courier: Sarah Boyack MSPSarah Boyack MSP (Image: PA)

She claimed: “Patients in Musselburgh are being routinely let-down by the lack of NHS dental provision.

“With more than three quarters of NHS dentists unable to accept new patients, the people of Musselburgh have been left with a two-tiered system that routinely fails them.

“We are now seeing the devastating effects of the SNP mismanagement of our NHS, with patients spending months suffering unnecessarily whilst they are unable to see an NHS dentist.

“This cannot carry on. The SNP must act now before more communities like Musselburgh are left without access to NHS services.”

The findings were based on data collected by the office of Sarah Boyack MSP for the 20 closest practices to Musselburgh on May 5, 2023.

This included dental practices in Musselburgh, others in East Lothian and parts of Edinburgh, including Portobello, and Midlothian. Colin Beattie, SNP MSP for Midlothian North & Musselburgh, recognised the concerns regarding NHS dentistry and waiting list times in Musselburgh and the surrounding areas.

East Lothian Courier: Colin Beattie MSPColin Beattie MSP (Image: Newsquest)

“Brexit alongside the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all NHS healthcare services and our workforce,” he said.

“The Scottish Government supported dental practices through the pandemic including through the provision of an additional £150 million to maintain the sector.

“Since then, the NHS has moved into a period of recovery which will take some time. The new policy prospectus that the Scottish Government set out on April 18 commits to providing sustained and improved equitable national access to national health service dentistry by 2026.

“In terms of the bridging payment, this will continue until October 31, 2023, while we prepare for the implementation of payment reform. The agreed date to implement dentistry reform is November 1, 2023. If anyone has difficulty finding an NHS dentist they should contact their health board.”

Jenny Long, director of primary care for NHS Lothian, added: “We are acutely aware of the challenges around access to NHS dentistry in East Lothian, which is also evident across Scotland.

“Dental practices are independent contractors to the NHS, and the General Dental Services contract is a national contract negotiated by Scottish Government. The Chief Dental Officer is currently undertaking a review of this contract, and this is crucial in improving access to NHS general dentistry. Details of all dental practices across Scotland are listed on the NHS Inform website. In addition, to support patients, the NHS Lothian website includes information about practices in Lothian that may be taking on new patients.

“We remain committed to ensuring access to urgent dental care for all Lothian residents. Patients who are unregistered and who require urgent dental care can access the Emergency Dental Service by contacting Chalmers Dental Centre on 0131 536 4800, Monday to Friday between 9am and 4.30pm. Outwith these hours, please contact NHS24 on 111 for access to emergency dental care.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the challenges facing the sector and are working on the introduction of national payment reform with a new, modernised system that will provide NHS dental teams with greater clinical discretion, and transparency for NHS patients.

“Anyone facing difficulties in accessing NHS dental care should speak to their NHS board who have oversight for the provision of NHS dental services in their area.

“Official statistics, published by Public Health Scotland, show that more than 95 per cent of the Scottish population is registered with an NHS dentist. They also show a significant recovery in NHS dental service provision following the relaxation of Infection Protection Controls in April last year.”