More than a third of registered patients haven’t seen an NHS dentist for over three years

27 March 2024

Alex Cole-Hamilton, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, has accused ministers of failing to meaningfully address the crisis in NHS dentistry. Research from the party revealed that more than a third of patients registered with an NHS dentist haven’t had a check-up or treatment for over three years.

Scottish ministers, including first minister Humza Yousaf, have regularly noted that 95 per cent of people in Scotland are registered with an NHS dentist. However, in response to a freedom of information request from Scottish Liberal Democrats, Public Health Scotland has now confirmed that:

  • In the past three years, 1.8m people (more than a third of those registered) have not had an examination or treatment.
  • Almost a quarter of those registered have not seen an NHS dentist for more than five years.
  • The 95 per cent figure quoted by ministers even includes more than 560,000 people (one in 10 of those registered) who haven’t seen their NHS dentist for more than a decade.

Cole-Hamilton said, “Being registered with a dentist is not a mark of accessibility. These figures expose the reality that under the SNP, more than a third of registered patients haven’t been seen in the last three years, while one in 10 haven’t had a check-up or any treatment for more than a decade.

“Nationalist ministers have put spin before solutions. They have tried to cover up problems with misleading statistics, done next to nothing to help dentistry recover from the pandemic and left both dentists and patients in the lurch.

“From DIY dentistry to purchasing tools on Amazon to travelling back to war-torn Ukraine for treatment, people are resorting to drastic and barbaric options.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats are on the side of everyone queueing up for a dentist and tired of SNP spin. That’s why we have set out plans that would deliver quality, accessible dentistry in every community. Those plans would see ministers rewrite their failed ‘NHS Recovery Plan’, prioritise workforce planning and boost the number of dentists taking on NHS patients.”