Glasgow & West Scotland

Residents on Islay and Jura have year wait for dentist

Dentist and teeth Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People on Isla and Jura are facing waits of up to a year to see a dentist

Residents of two Hebridean islands are being told to "come back in a year" if they want to see a dentist.

The islands of Islay and Jura have been left with only one part-time dentist since the retirement of the only full-time dentist one year ago.

The remaining dentist cannot treat all the islanders and has had to prioritise children and people who are in pain.

NHS Highland said dental services on Islay met "all the necessary infection control requirements".

There have been 16 expressions of interest in the job but no-one has taken up the position.

It is thought that the poor state of dental facilities on the island - provided from a portable cabin in the car park of Bowmore Hospital - has been a factor in recruitment issues.

Car waiting room

"The waiting room is your car," said local resident and retired GP Pat McGran.

"The receptionist has to come out and get you. A man and wife team took on the job in 1998 on the understanding that facilities would be upgraded but that never happened.

"Facilities are not just not attractive and the Community Health Partnership has told us there's no funding to upgrade them."

Islanders who want a check-up now have to take the ferry to Tarbert or Lochgilpead.

A dental practice in Paisley has even started advertising in the local paper, despite being a five-hour journey away.

A spokesperson for NHS Highland said: "Dental services on Islay are provided from a well-resourced facility that meets all the necessary infection control requirements.

"At the same time however we do recognise that the actual building itself is not ideal and we have been investigating the possibility of providing these services from within the hospital building."

Earlier this month, the BBC reported how health officials in the Highlands were advertising on billboards and buses in Leeds and Liverpool to try to fill dozens of vacancies in remote GP practices.

Adverts promoted the stunning scenery and career-enhancing challenges of rural life. Islay is one of the areas trying to attract GPs.

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