Plans to scrap NHS dental charges in Scotland will begin with abolishing the fees for young people who have been in care, Nicola Sturgeon is due to confirm.
The SNP manifesto, unveiled by Sturgeon on Thursday, contained plans to axe the charges over the course of the next parliament if the party is re-elected to power in next month’s Holyrood election.
If returned as First Minister, Sturgeon plans to work with the British Dental Association and others to develop a “reformed funding arrangement” for services to make them “sustainable for the long term”.
The SNP scrapped prescription charges in Scotland while Sturgeon was health secretary.
She added that ending dental charges would “complete an SNP mission – to restore all of Scotland’s NHS to its founding principle” of being free at the point of demand.
Ending the charges will cost £75m initially, though Sturgeon said this was expected to rise to £100m as demand increases when fees are removed.
The SNP leader, who is campaigning in Glasgow on Friday ahead of next month’s election, will say: “NHS services should be free at the point of need, and when I was health secretary I was proud to abolish prescription charges, which were little more than a tax on ill health.
“Although we have made huge progress in improving access to dental treatment in Scotland in recent years, charges remain a barrier for too many people.
“That’s why, if re-elected, an SNP Government will abolish all NHS dentistry charges in Scotland.
“We will start the rollout with care-experienced people between the ages of 18 and 26 – and complete the rollout over the course of the parliament.
“As we do this, we will engage with the British Dental Association and others to help shape a reformed funding arrangement to make their services sustainable for the long term.”