Highlands MSP raises concerns over access to NHS dentistry, as patients are moved to private surgeries

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An MSP based in the Highlands has raised concerns over the future of NHS dentistry, as patients move from NHS clinics to private surgeries.

Rhoda Grant said that a lack of funding made available by the government has contributed to “privatisation by the back door.” Recently, patients who were previously registered with NHS services in the area have been relocated to privately run clinics. Under new guidelines, the NHS prioritises patients with additional or complex needs and sends others to private clinics that have agreed to provide NHS treatment.

The worry for Ms Grant is that there is no long-term guarantee that NHS treatment will be available for those who have been moved to private surgeries. The MSP suggested that patients could find themselves in a position where they can’t access NHS care at the surgery to which they moved, but they also can’t benefit from NHS treatment if their current dentist opts out of the scheme and decides to cease NHS services.

The government suggested that it was working with NHS Highland to ensure patients have access to care, but couldn’t guarantee that patients who have moved would be accepted back into the community dental service.

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