Today The Galloway Gazette launches a petition to save NHS dental provision in Newton Stewart.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway propose to close the dental service at Newton Stewart Health Centre and move patients to the two independent dental practices in the town. But at a meeting in the town last week, NHS chiefs heard loud and clear that the general public want the service in Newton Stewart to remain as it is.
If you oppose the NHS plans, you can sign the petition in The Galloway Gazette offices, 71 Victoria Street, Newton Stewart, alternatively, you can read this story on The Galloway Gazette website at www.gallowaygazette.com and leave you name and address in the comments section or tell us what you think on our Facebook page.
The deadline for signing the petition is Monday, June 2, the petition will then be presented to NHS officials at their forthcoming meeting with Mid Galloway Area Committee councillors in Stranraer on Thursday, June 5.
Mid Galloway elected member Alistair Geddes said: “I am absolutely delighted that, yet again The Galloway Gazette is taking the lead in co-ordinating local opinion on an extremely important issue for the people not only of Newton Stewart but the wider mid Galloway area. I hope the initiative receives the maximum amount of support from those who have concerns about these proposals and who wish to make their views known.”
Further concerns were raised this week that disabled people in Dumfries and Galloway may be treated unfairly if the Heath Board presses ahead with plans to only use high street dentists in future.
DG Voice, a Dumfries-based organisation who claim to be “the Voice of disabled people in Dumfries and Galloway”, has written to the Health Board opposing NHS proposals to transfer NHS patients to Independent Dental Contractors, saying such action could “condemn disabled people to being treated less favourably than others due to the closure of custom built facilities with wheelchair and disabled access, blue badge parking places and public transport links”.
Both of the independent dental practices in Newton Stewart have wheelchair and disabled access, as does the South West Smile Care Centre in Stranraer, but parking issues remain.
They suggest that the clinics threatened with closure, including Newton Stewart, could be treated in the same way as those at Lochside and Sanquhar, leased to Independent Dental Contractors, to save disabled friendly clinics.
A spokesman for NHS Dumfries and Galloway said: “We are currently in the process of reviewing routine NHS dental services provided by the Salaried Dental Service. The review has been undertaken in response to significant improvements and increased access to NHS dental services across the region.
“The initial review and its proposed recommendations relate to the provision of routine General Dental Services from five Salaried Service clinic sites. The review has proposed that the Dumfries Dental Centre, Lochmaben Hospital Dental Clinic and Newton Stewart Health Centre Dental Clinic should cease to provide routine NHS dental services. The provision of services for those with additional dental support needs would continue to be provided from Dumfries Dental Centre and the Galloway Community Hospital as is currently the case.”
Valerie White, Consultant in Dental Public Health said: “It is important to note that the review remains ongoing and a decision about the proposed recommendations will not be made until the review concludes and a report has been submitted to the NHS Board. Patients registered at the salaried service clinics should continue to access services as normal.
“Comments received on the proposals are being collected and reflected on and a summary of these will be included in the final paper that goes to the NHS Board. As part of our equality and diversity impact assessment work has been undertaken to evaluate the accessibility of independent contractor practices. This evaluation is a key part of the review and will be included in the final report.”
Robert Allan, the secretary of DG Voice replied: “The NHSDG response adds nothing to our understanding of the proposals to end the NHS Salaried Dentists in Dumfries and Galloway.However, DGVoice is pleased to note that a thorough Impact Assessment including access for disabled people to premises used by Independent Dental Contractors will be carried out. We are however concerned that public transport links and parking for disabled people at such premises is not included as part of the assessment. DGVoice would be happy to work in partnership with NHSDG to produce a comprehensive Impact Assessment.”