NHS dentist will close to give taxpayers “best value”

Closing down Newton Stewart’s NHS dental service at the heath centre is inevitable as it will save taxpayers £70,000 a year, say the NHS.

But chief executive Jeff Ace reassured a well-attended Wigtown Area Committee meeting last week that the practice would remain open until NHS D&G had cast iron guarantees that a private practice could absorb the numbers registered, around 600, and provide a capacity for 1000 patients. Disabled access and parking issues were still to be resolved. Mr Ace said that a private practices in the town had indicated it was planning to expand but until the NHS board had details, the status quo would remain.

Circumstances had changed since salaried dentists had been employed by the NHS to fix the problem of long queue of patients waiting to sign up to private practices.

General practice dentist numbers had now increased, and they were paid a premium by the NHS to “keep up” their NHS patients numbers.

Economic pressures mean the NHS now prefer to use general practice dentist as they provide best value of money.

Mr Ace said: “General dentist are better value for the taxpayer but we will only do this if it is for the benefit of the community in Newton Stewart.”

Councillor Alastair Geddes said this NHS policy was “ideological” and giving money to “contractors” might not be best value for NHS patients in Newton Stewart.