NHS SHETLAND is advising hundreds of people waiting for dental appointments to register with an independent NHS dentist in Lerwick, as it was unlikely that they “would be seen in the future”.
The health board is currently employing just 7.1 ‘working time equivalent’ dentists across the isles, and has been suffering for a long time from well-documented difficulties of recruiting and retaining dentists.
In a letter this week to all those 600 on the waiting list, chief executive Ralph Robert the health board was simply not able provide everybody with the public dental service (PDS).
“We are also finding that existing patients are waiting longer than we would want for their treatment and check-ups,” Roberts said.
“Because of this we have agreed to prioritise access to our PDS service for those patients who require additional support; those that have particular clinical needs and for children.”
He added: “Whilst I accept this may be deeply frustrating for the people that have been on the PDS waiting list, I think it is important to be honest with them about the likelihood of the service being able to expand to accommodate them.
“It is also important that our public dental service is able to focus on the patients with most need.
“I would therefore encourage anyone who needs to see a dentist to consider registering with a different dental practice.
“Meanwhile I can confirm that the PDS is working hard to maintain a dental service to the more remote areas of Shetland, for example the isles, where an independent service is unlikely to be viable.”
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