AN ACTION PLAN FOR IMPROVING ORAL HEALTH AND MODERNISING NHS DENTAL SERVICES IN SCOTLAND
This Action Plan sets out the Executive's response to the 2 consultation documents "Towards Better Oral Health in Children" and "Modernising NHS Dental Services in Scotland".
Scotland has a very poor record on oral health. Our children have some of the worst teeth in Europe. And we have growing problems over access to NHS dental services in many parts of Scotland.
The measures outlined in the Action Plan will address our poor oral health record, provide better access for patients, and provide an attractive package for the professional staff whom we wish to recruit to, and retain within, the NHS.
We recognise the important public health benefits of improved oral health and its integration with other national health improvement initiatives, in particular those relating to diet. We are proposing a wide range of measures which will promote oral health and prevent dental disease, particularly in our children from birth through to the teenage years. We will also provide better preventive services for older people and disadvantaged groups.
We know that we need to make substantial changes to NHS dental services to meet the expectations of patients and dental professionals. We have already started along this path by introducing a number of measures aimed at improving recruitment and retention, and providing support for practices, but this Action Plan is much more far reaching.
We recognise the targets contained in the action plan are challenging. But we are taking steps to increase our dental workforce, not just dentists but all members of the team. We will increase dentist output from our dental schools, incentivise dentists to return to Scotland and recruit from outwith Scotland. We will also train more dental therapists who can provide a wide range of dental treatments as part of the dental team, and provide support to other members of the team.
We will ensure that those independent contractor dentists who have been and continue to be committed to the NHS are suitably rewarded. That means giving them better support for their premises, IT, staff, and health and safety needs, in return for commitment to the NHS. But we also need to strengthen our salaried services, particularly in areas where there are insufficient independent contractor dentists to meet the needs.
Over the next 3 years we will invest a record additional £150m to achieve our goals in both oral health and NHS dental services.
By taking a co-ordinated approach to health improvement and dental services, by working in partnership with the professions and key agencies in Health and education we aim to transform oral health in Scotland by the end of the decade, and make NHS dental services available to all who need them.
Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care