Lewis and Harris residents young and old are smiling bright as NHSWI Dental Centre announces the end of its patient registration waiting list.
Meanwhile, the first new dental practice to establish in Lewis in 30 years gears up to open its doors; and national inspection results reveal island school pupils’ teeth in excellent condition.
More than 5,000 Lewis and Harris patients are now again registered with a dentist as NHSWI Dental Service Director Colin Robertson said:“The hard work isn’t over, but NHS Western Isles is now able to say with confidence ‘normal service is resumed’ in Lewis and Harris.
“The days of waiting three years for registration are gone, and routine appointments are often available within a couple of weeks.”
The closure of Bayhead Dental Practice in 2014 left around 3,500 Lewis residents without a registered dentist – at a time when the NHSWI operated Public Dental Service was working to reduce its own waiting list of more than 3,000 patients.
The Public Dental Service had suffered from retirements and dentists leaving the islands; but with hard work and dedication to patients’ needs, NHSWI Dental Centre has now cleared the waiting list.
“NHS Western Isles has made use of every resource available to it; not just relying on recruiting dentists, but building a team which uses Therapists and Hygienists to make the Centre one of the busiest in Scotland,” Mr Robertson continued.
“Stornoway now also has a new high street dentist with ‘Castleview Dental Practice’ already operating from the WI Dental Centre before moving into their Cromwell Street clinic, which will be the first new practice to open here in 30 years." The new practice is to be based in the former Co-op Furniture store, better known in recent years as the summer base for the Hebridean Celtic Festival.
“This co-operation between the Health Board and Castleview means that more than 5,000 patients now have a registered dentist again,” Mr Robertson said.
Island youngsters are also proving a clean sweep when it comes to keeping their teeth clean and healthy as results from the National Dental Inspection Programme (NDIP) Report 2018 place NHSWI in the top three board areas for child oral health.
In total, 16,814 Primary 1 children across Scotland received a detailed dental inspection between November 2017 and June 2018 for the NDIP Report, with 266 Western Isles P1 pupils – 96% of the islands’ P1 population – undergoing inspection.
The 2018 Report shows the percentage of P1 island children with no obvious decay is 79%, eight points higher than the national average of 71%; and almost double the 2004 Western Isles results of 41%.
At 79% this year, the Western Isles boasts the third best rate in Scotland, following from Orkney and Shetland NHS board areas (scoring 84% and 82% respectively) in providing excellent child dental services.
This is due in part to the success of NHSWI’s annual ‘Childsmile Weeks’. Run throughout the islands since 2010, Childsmile Week regularly sees more than 1,500 island youngsters get their teeth checked, receive tooth-brushing instruction and diet advice, as well as enjoy lots of fun, games, and competitions that deliver the key messages to ensure good oral health.
“The Childsmile campaign has been especially successful in the Islands, and this is down to the hard work done in schools and playgroups, where dental and education staff co-operate closely,” Mr Robertson said. “So many of our children now have perfect teeth it means less time is spent filling baby teeth.”
He added: “For the people of Lewis and Harris it is all good news. With a new practice coming, a versatile and productive Public Dental Service, and Childsmile reaching more children every year, the local dental services in Lewis and Harris are in their best shape for years.
“Looking to the future, our aim now is to secure the same quality of access for all patients throughout the Western Isles.”
Photo:- NHSWI Dental Centre staff (standing l-r): Sharon MacDonald, Dental Nurse; Roberta Grant, Dentist; Margaret Anne MacLeod, Hygenist; Matthew Alexander, Dentist; (seated l-r): Elizabeth Hall, Therapist Tutor; Jo Downes, Dental Nurse