Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has today said she is outraged to hear that new plans for an upgraded dental suite at Uist and Barra hospital have been unveiled despite the fierce prolonged opposition locally. After almost three years of objection to the proposal, NHS Western Isles and the Comhairle announced last month, that they intend to press ahead with closing the dental practices at Lochmaddy and Liniclate (with Lochboisdale having already been closed) and centralise dental services in Benbecula.
Mrs Grant’s plea for a meeting with the former Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robison, was ignored and last month she contacted the new Cabinet Secretary, Jeane Freeman, asking her to launch an enquiry into this decision as a matter of urgency.
Rhoda Grant said “The level of opposition to this plan has been staggering from the start yet NHS Western Isles and the Comhairle are battling on with their plans to centralise dentistry services in Benbecula, leaving some patients facing a 60 mile round trip to access an NHS dentist.
“The Uist LPG made it clear to the Integration Joint Board (IJB) in November 2016, that after a comprehensive options appraisal exercise, there was strong backing for the retention of the three site provision, as existed at that time. This was reinforced by the Association of Community Councils, by a stakeholder event held in Lochboisdale, and by all local elected members serving at that time. Concerns from dental professionals have also been raised, and it would appear, ignored.
Mrs Grant concluded “Tooth infection can have untold effects on many other parts of the body if infection is not detected early enough. We need to encourage people to go for regular check-ups, not take dental services out of their communities which leaves access to dentists very hard for people who may have mobility issues, or do not own a car to travel these distances.
“I am contacting the Cabinet Secretary again to ask that these plans be stopped until the Scottish Government carries out a full enquiry into this appalling decision.”