SNP accuses Carnoustie dental practice of misleading patients over NHS treatment

The SNP claims a Carnoustie dental practice “chose to misinform” patients that they were no longer capable of carrying out treatment on the NHS.

Laws Dental is one of a number of practices to be spoken to by NHS chiefs after saying last month they were shifting to expensive private care only due to “significant” financial losses in the wake of new regulations introduced last month.

Graham Laws, who runs the practice on Brown Street, Graham Laws, insisted he had not “been left with much of a choice”.

He told us in November: “I have been loyal to NHS dentistry for 21 years, but the significant changes enacted recently have pushed me, very reluctantly, in the direction to leave the NHS.

“The service has been severely underfunded for a while now and for the last six months the practice has been making significant losses which, if not addressed, would ultimately lead to closure of the practice and several thousand patients left without dental care.”

SNP public health minister Jenni Minto has disputed this, claiming the Carnoustie practice should still be able to treat patients through the NHS.

But North East Tory MSP Tess White, who quizzed Ms Minto on the row, claimed dentists were being unfairly “castigated” by the government.

SNP public health minister Jenni Minto. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson.

Ms Minto said: “I am aware that a small number of practices appear to have chosen to misinform patients about the NHS dental offer.

“This is something I take very seriously, and I will be asking the director of primary care to write to all NHS board chief executives about this situation and asking them to follow up on any instances of patients being wrongly advised.”

Laws Dental has been contacted for comment.

What are the new rules?

The new rules put in place last month have rejigged payment structures so teams receive increased fees, and also mean patients are no longer penned in for checks up automatically every six months.

That second change has proven particularly controversial – with one Fife dentist warning it could cost lives, as well as hitting practices financially.

And the British Dental Association has questioned whether the regulations will solve staffing shortages across the country.

The profession has been in the grip of a major crisis as it becomes harder for patients to find practices that have not gone private.

In August, a Fife couple said they had been shafted after discovering no practices in the region that carried out treatment on the NHS were accepting new patients.

Tess White MSP. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson.

Tory MSP Ms White said: “These extraordinary accusations by an SNP minister will not help secure the future of NHS dentistry.

“More and more practices are being forced to go private-only to stay in business, waiting lists are getting longer, and a two-tier dental health system is emerging.

“Dentists and staff across Scotland will be shocked by these comments. They need to feel valued as an important part of NHS healthcare, not castigated.”

Charlotte Waite, director of British Dental Association Scotland said: “Many dental practices in Scotland found themselves delivering NHS care at a financial loss.

“We fought to get a more sustainable model in place, but clearly issues remain.”

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