The Scottish government has been accused of conning the north east of Scotland over promises that a new dental school in Aberdeen would relieve the area’s 25,000-long NHS waiting list.
It follows revelations that the school will only have 15 first-year students when it opens in October, only increasing to 20 in the following year, despite promises that the school would widen access to NHS dentistry.
In comparison, Glasgow’s dental school has 90 students in each year and Dundee around 63.
The new dental school in Aberdeen has been billed as the best hope of tackling Grampian’s waiting list.
The idea is dentists often stay where they train, but there are fears that the low number of students means little will be achieved to solve the crisis.
The figures came in a written answer from SNP health minister Shona Robison.
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles said: ‘This is just a big con and is final proof that Aberdeen is not actually getting a real dentist school at all.
‘With the unfortunate inevitability of some students dropping out, we will be lucky if even 10 new dentists emerge from the initial 2008 intake. That will do very little to solve the NHS dental crisis in the north east.’
Ms Robison said: ‘Numbers of students for Aberdeen Dental School have been decided as part of the dental workforce planning for the whole of Scotland.
‘We are confident that the numbers are right to ensure that we can continue to expand access to NHS dentistry, particularly in areas such as the north east.’
A spokeswoman from NHS Grampian said: ‘We believe the dental school and the graduates coming out of it will greatly benefit dentistry in the north east.’