Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has again called on NHS Western Isles to quickly resolve the situation with dental services on the Isle of Barra. In the latest development, the Scottish Dental Reference Service wants people to visit the dental surgery to have work checked on their teeth, in the meantime people are waiting months for delayed appointments. Many who have received letters say they will not cooperate with what they are calling a “witch-hunt.”

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“The Barra dentist has given over 25 years excellent service to the island, and he is well respected.  However, he is currently not working as he is going through a disciplinary process with NHS Western Isles.  The process is dragging out and the latest is that, for seemingly the first time ever, people are getting letters, not for dental work, but a type of survey to check work  – that has been done in the past and people are happy with – is okay.  

“Meanwhile other people cannot get seen and all those with months postponed appointments due to this debacle have not been contacted. Patient care does not seem to be the first concern at present. To say people are annoyed, is an understatement.  Many have contacted me livid and stating they will not be cooperating with what they are calling a “witch-hunt” on a very respected dentist that they want to see back at work.

“My opinion is that whatever is going on in this silly topsy turvy carry-on, the NHS Western Isles has lost sight of what dental clinics should be doing, instead we have an investigator, judge, jury and executioner scenario on a respected dentist.  For many people this circus has to come to an end and back to the job of sorting teeth – what the job is actually about when the silly games stop.

“What was meant to take 2 months, is still ongoing and an urgency to get things sorted doesn’t seem to be there, these latest letters of investigation will add months to the circus. Everyone wants a speedy resolution, and people are worried that NHS Western Isles will drive the dentist away and discourage others from coming.  The Barra dental situation is also affecting Uist, as the dentist can of course no longer go to Uist and they are already a dentist down in apparently another long saga taking years, as well losing geographical spread of dental services in Uist..

“To add to the fury, people are needlessly asked to travel as far as Lochmaddy at times for dental services, in the case of teachers going to appointments, this means extra cost to education budgets looking for a supply teacher as an hour for a dental process becomes a day’s travel.  Given we have an excellent dentist sitting on the island twiddling his thumbs with the stress of a bureaucracy at full force against him. This seems ridiculous as well as unfair.

“People would much prefer that they worked to get our excellent dentist back to work full-time.

Whatever issues NHS Western Isles have, they should work to resolve these issues quickly.  We wouldn’t like to be in the same situation that we had with our GP, who had enough of NHS Western Isles and moved on. Locum GPs are currently employed on Barra at very great expense, adding additional pressures on NHS Western Isles budgets affecting everybody in the islands ultimately.

“There has to be a better way. We all want to see the dentist back at work.  I will be writing to the Health Minister on this and relaying the concern of many that there is a “witch-hunt” going on.”