Patient 'waits more than three years for dentist appointment'

Average waiting times have increased in 12 health boards, according to new figures.

Average waits for NHS dental treatment growing 12 Scottish health boards, figures show iStock

Average waits for NHS outpatient dentist treatment have increased in 12 health board areas since 2019, new figures show.

One patient had to wait 169 weeks – more than three years – before undergoing outpatient treatment in 2022.

For inpatient and day-case treatments, the longest a patient had to wait in 2022 was 146 weeks in NHS Borders, up from 67 weeks in 2019, which was recorded by NHS Tayside.

Average waits increased across eight health boards for this type of treatment.

The data compared average waiting times for each year between 2019 and 2022.

The Liberal Democrats, who uncovered the figures through a freedom of information request, said the funding structure for dentistry should be reformed to encourage practices to take on NHS patients.

Party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The SNP are abandoning NHS dentistry.

“These figures show that over the past four years, long waits have soared. Scots are being left in pain.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling for a rewrite of the NHS Recovery Plan so that dentists are properly recognised and fresh resources are provided for our NHS to tackle these long waits.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Over 1.5 million NHS examination appointments were completed between April and October with an average of more than 300,000 courses of treatment per month, meaning we are on course for over 3.5 million contacts in the 2022/23 financial year.

“No one in Scotland will be left in pain when waiting for dental treatment – hospitals triage patients and see them as quickly as they can as appropriate to their need.

“Dentistry is an important part of our recovery plan and we’re working with boards to address the backlog created by the pandemic, both in dental practices and hospitals.”

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