Urgent dental calls to NHS24 'more than double in five years'

It comes after health chiefs warned dentistry in Scotland faces an 'existential threat' due to loss of capacity.

Emergency dental calls to NHS24 more than double in five years, figures show STV News

The number of emergency calls relating to dental and oral health has more than doubled in five years, figures show.

Data obtained via Freedom of Information has revealed that the number of NHS24 calls about oral and dental health increased from 25,509 in 2018-2019 to 67,189 in 2022-2023.

It comes after the British Dental Association warned NHS dentistry in Scotland faces an ‘existential threat’ after analysis showed more than half of capacity has been lost compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Comparing treatment delivered after lockdown restrictions were eased compared to pre-Covid in March 2020 found there has been a loss of 52% of dentistry capacity.

Research showed capacity in dentistry has been significantly impacted compared to other NHS services such as GPs, where more than 30% of face-to-face appointments have been lost, and 6% for outpatient hospital appointments.

The BDA previously stated that NHS dentistry in Scotland is at risk of going from “crisis to collapse” because of staff shortages and lack of access to care.

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Scottish Labour has demanded action over what it described as a “two-tier dentistry service’ in Scotland.

MSP Paul Sweeney said: “The chaos engulfing our dental services is forcing NHS dentistry to the brink.

“Concerns about access to care and a collapsing workforce have fallen on deaf ears, but the Scottish government need to start taking these warnings seriously and properly tackle these issues.

“The SNP cannot continue to sit on their hands as this crisis worsens. Urgent action must be taken now to bring dentistry services back from the brink.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Dentistry statistics demonstrate a significantly improving picture for the sector since the relaxation of Infection Prevention Controls (IPC) on the sector in April 2022.

“For example, official statistics published on 23 May by Public Health Scotland show a significant recovery in NHS dental service provision from April last year, with over 3.8 million courses of treatment completed in 2022/23, an increase of more than 40% compared with 2021/22, when IPC restrictions were in force.

“Through a combination of payment reform and working closely with NHS Boards on local solutions, we are confident we will continue to see the continuation of these trends.”

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