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Debates and questions

S5W-30139: Alison Johnstone (Lothian)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 22 June 2020

To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the impact of the reduction of dental services during the COVID-19 outbreak on oral cancer detection and survival rates.

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 20 July 2020

Despite a reduction in dental services during the COVID-19 outbreak ensuring that people have access to cancer services remains a priority. Dental practices have continued to triage patients during this period and, following the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) guidelines, continue to refer patients with symptoms of oral cancer for urgent assessment.

Dental practices also reopened to see patients with an urgent dental care need from 22 June as we move forward with the NHS Remobilisation Plan. The period in which dental practices were closed with telephone triage was approximately three months. We have also announced that from 13 July dental practices may see patients for routine care. This is an indicative date and is dependent on Scotland moving to phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Route Map. On average a person attends the dentist once per year. So the effect on oral health across the Scottish population we anticipate can be managed through the NHS Remobilisation Plan.

More information on the SDCEP guidance can be found at:

https://www.sdcep.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/EDCPracticeGuide2pp.pdf