Oral health improvement plan

This document sets out the future of oral health improvement and NHS dental services in Scotland.

Improving Information for Patients

The Scottish Government’s ‘Making it Easy’ strategy recognises that “modern health and social care can place daunting hurdles in our way – the language and processes of health and care services can be hard to understand.” [17] The public deserves to have access to information to help them improve their oral health, including the dental treatment they may require.

During the focus groups with members of the public, the Scottish Health Council found that ‘the absence of visible price lists in waiting areas was also commented on and participants said that often the first indication of the treatment plan price being available was when the patient returned to the reception area.’ [18]

There is of course, a difference in the knowledge base between those who are providing dental treatment and those receiving it. Whilst we know the vast majority of dentists will make it clear to patients what treatment is available, we want to ensure that patients are aware of what they are entitled to receive under the NHS and for this to be communicated clearly by the dentist. It is also important that patients are aware of the costs of NHS treatment compared to private treatment.

Action 18: The Scottish Government will develop the standard of NHS oral health information on self-care, treatments available, costs and services to be made available to the public by dental practices and dentists.

Simplifying Items of Service

GDPs provide over four million courses of treatment to adults every year. With over 400 separate items of service (treatments) available under the GDS at present in Scotland, it is understandable that patients and dentists find the whole system confusing and unwieldy. There needs to be a substantial simplification of this regime to ensure that patients have a well-informed understanding of what they are paying for, and it is less administratively complex for dentists.

Some initial scoping work has allowed us to identify eight categories of dentistry which are provided under the GDS. These are:

  • Oral Health Risk Assessment (including prevention)
  • Periodontics
  • Minor oral surgery (e.g. wisdom teeth removal)
  • Fillings
  • Dentures
  • Orthodontics
  • Endodontics (e.g. root canal treatment)
  • Crowns and bridges

Typically most dentists use around 100 items of service.

Action 19: The Scottish Government will streamline items of service payments to GDPs.

The intention would be to introduce this change progressively to ensure that practices are not destabilised by the rate of change.


Back to top