The chief of NHS Dumfries and Galloway has admitted the organisation is no nearer making a decision about dental provision in Newton Stewart.
At a themed meeting of the Wigtown Area Committee on Tuesday in Stranraer’s Ryan Centre, focusing exclusively on key NHS services, Jeff Ace said the NHS board was “still reviewing” the situation.
Mr Ace added that, of the three NHS dental services earmarked for closure after a review early last year, Newton Stewart was “by far the most complex”.
The original plan to move the 900 NHS patients to the two independent dentists in the town stalled after a public meeting last May, when Mr Ace and his colleagues were made aware of the strong desire from locals to retain the service at the heath centre.
And, to their shock, the news was that there was a waiting list to get NHS dental services in addition to the 900 already listed.
Mr Ace said: “Because of Newton Stewart’s history of underprovision, no decision has been made and if we did we would have to be confident alternative arragements would be suitable.
“We are still reviewing if the two dental practices in Newton Stewart can take on the 900 patients and that won’t be completed until the summer.
“Once we get the report we can take some action.”
Mid Galloway Councillor Alistair Geddes told Mr Ace that NHS Dumfries and Galloway must “engage in meaningful consultation with the public” and Mr Ace confirmed that the health board would go back to Newton Stewart for a further meeting with the community once it had digested the report.
He added: “I am sort of apologetic about the time it’s taken but on the other hand I’m not really as we need to be sure we are doing it right and show we can handle complex cases.
“We need to see the data and also engage with the community every step of the way.”
A Galloway Gazette petition against ending NHS dental provision was signed by 125 people.
The Galloway Gazette started the petition after local people wanted a tangible way to express their opposition to NHS D&G