Dental services under growing pressure in Dumfries and Galloway

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Dental services in Dumfries and Galloway are under growing pressure due to staff shortages and backlogs caused by the pandemic.

Interim director of dentistry, Alison Milne, suggested that the situation could get worse before it gets better, with practices operating at a reduced capacity and many clinics struggling to fill vacancies.

The pandemic has resulted in thousands of appointments and procedures being cancelled across Scotland and there are still restrictions in place, which limit patient numbers. Ms Milne said that dentists are working in a very “complex environment” and many practices have staff shortages.

Speaking at a meeting of the region’s health board, Ms Milne said that there have been issues related to recruitment for many years and described the service as “fragile.” Six practices have unfilled vacancies and some are up for sale. Out of over 30 practices, only six are accepting new NHS patients.

Recently, a practice in Newton Stewart closed due to the dentist moving to Stranraer and another surgery in Castle Douglas shut due to the dentist retiring as a result of illness.

The 1,800 patients on the list in Newton Stewart have been offered a choice of joining an NHS waiting list or paying for private care in Stranraer, while the patients affected by the closure of the Castle Douglas practice have been encouraged to contact the dental helpline.

There are currently seven fewer practices providing general dentistry in the region than at the start of the pandemic.

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