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Patients warned to expect delays in gaining appointments as full NHS dental services resume

By Alasdair Fraser

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Delays expected as NHS dental services re-open
Delays expected as NHS dental services re-open

A greater range of Highland NHS dental services will be available from next month – but patients are being warned to expect delays in gaining appointments.

During the pandemic, only a very limited number of treatments were made available to patients.

But following the recent Scottish Government announcement that, as from November 1, dentists can resume a much fuller range of services, dental teams in the area will respond in kind.

While the move will be welcomed by patients denied certain treatments, Scotland’s chief dental officer Tom Ferris has stressed it will not be “business as usual” for now.

Private dental practices have been subject to fewer restrictions.

John Lyon, clinical dental director for NHS Highland, said: “We are anticipating further clarification from the Scottish Government soon on the specific detail of what treatment we will be able to offer.

“But inevitably over the past eight months a considerable number of appointments have had to be cancelled.

“Our dental practices will prioritise patients with the greatest clinical need when we start to offer more treatments, but they will also be focusing on maintaining a Covid-19 safe environment for patients and staff.

“That will mean that fewer patients, around 50 per cent, will be seen per day than in pre Covid-19 times.

“We also want to prepare patients who are attending appointments that they will notice a lot of changes.

“This will include waiting rooms no longer in use and the dental team wearing PPE that is very different from what was used pre COVID.

“It’s good news that we will soon be able to offer a wider range of treatments but we fully appreciate that some patients will be disappointed at the time they will have to wait for a routine appointment.

“We would ask for understanding from all our patients during this time as our Dental Teams work hard to re-introduce services in a COVID safe environment and we all get used to this new way of working.”

Anyone not registered with a dentist who requires an emergency appointment should contact the NHS Highland Dental Helpline on 08456 442271 or nhshighland.dentalhelpline@nhs.scot.

Outwith office hours they should call NHS 24 on 111.

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