Millions of Scots will have to pay far more for treatment at their dentist after the SNP increased charges.
Despite a manifesto pledge to scrap dental charges altogether, the nationalist government has hiked fees.
The change means the 60 per cent of Scots who are required to contribute towards their NHS dental treatment will have to pay up to 255 per cent more for certain procedures.
In the run-up to the 2021 Holyrood election, the then SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon pledged to abolish NHS dental charges if her party returned to power.
But two years on, the changes to the payment structure which came into force last week mean patients will be paying much more for their treatment.
Sixty per cent of Scots who are required to contribute towards their NHS dental treatment will be paying much more for certain procedures
Under the new system, a filling now costs £12.72 compared with £8.80. The price of a root canal procedure has shot up from £64.84 to £115.32 and to have a tooth out costs £28.84 instead of £8.12.
Critics warn that higher charges may deter people from going to the dentist. Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: ‘NHS dentistry is still struggling in the wake of the pandemic, and patients – particularly in rural and deprived areas – are bearing the brunt of this.’
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane says ‘dentists and patients deserve better’
The Scottish Government’s 2019 health survey showed that only 61 per cent of adults in the most deprived areas had seen a dentist in the past two years.
The charity Children in Scotland painted a similarly bleak picture on the dental health of youngsters.
It found almost 79,000 children registered with an NHS dentist had not had a check-up in the past five years.
The situation is likely to get worse as recent changes will see Scots waiting up to two years for an appointment after the time between routine check-ups was extended from six months to 12-24 months.
The Scottish Government said the new payment structure will simplify treatment costs by reducing the number of chargeable procedures from 700 to 45 but the move, which will lead to increased prices, is a far cry from the SNP’s 2021 manifesto pledge.
Back then, Ms Sturgeon said the SNP was embarking on ‘a mission to restore all of Scotland’s NHS to its founding principle – universal healthcare, provided free at the point of need’.
But only 40 per cent of patients receive free NHS dental care in Scotland.
This includes those who are under 26 and people on certain benefits such as such as Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit.
Public Health Minister Jenni Minto defended the price hikes. She said: ‘We are confident the modernised system, with increased clinical freedom for dentists, will provide longer-term sustainability to the sector and encourage dentists to continue to provide NHS care.’
Recent research has shown 82 per cent of NHS dental practices are refusing to accept new patients and 18 per cent said their waiting list was a year or longer.
Dr Gulhane said: ‘The SNP’s new funding model drastically falls short in alleviating the pressure on NHS dental practices, forcing them to continue with the “drill and fill” approach and not provide the holistic care they would like to provide.
‘Both dentists and patients deserve better – the SNP Government needs to deliver a long-term plan to provide affordable and sustainable NHS dental care.’
Dr David McColl, chairman of the Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said: ‘Ministers decided to stick with an outdated model of care, with fixes paid for with higher charges and less frequent appointments.
‘Time will tell if this will be enough to bring NHS dentistry back from the brink.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk