The British Dental Association (BDA) is calling for a sensible debate about the funding of dental care for children in Scotland, following media attention on a change to the way the provision of NHS orthodontic care for children in Scotland is assessed.
The change will see the eligibility of Scotland’s children for NHS orthodontic care assessed by criteria called the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN). This will bring Scotland into line with arrangements already adopted in other parts of the UK.
While the BDA acknowledges that the allocation of funding is a matter for government, it believes a pragmatic debate that recognises that resources are limited and decisions have to be made about what taxpayers’ money is spent on is important.
Dr Robert Kinloch, chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said: ‘Scotland has an excellent scheme called Childsmile which is held up as an example of best practice across the UK. It was introduced in the Labour-Liberal Democrat Coalition’s Dental Action Plan in 2005 and its success is being built on by the current SNP administration.
‘Childsmile seeks to tackle oral health inequalities by targeting children with education, advice and interventions. Childsmile has the full support of the BDA and we are delighted to see the Scottish Government investing what we calculate to be approximately £3 million in its further development. This will mean that, as of next week, it will benefit children across the whole of Scotland.
‘While orthodontic care is extremely important, and certainly must be funded for those with a genuine clinical need, paying for it for those who are not judged to need it according to formal criteria is a questionable use of finite financial resources.
‘What is important is that the change that is being implemented is properly explained to patients by government, so that both they and the dental profession have a proper understanding of what parents can and can’t expect the state to provide for their children.’