A dental school in an area where more than 31,000 people do not have access to a dentist was opened today (Tuesday).
Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond was joined by public health minister Shona Robison at Aberdeen Dental School to formally open the £17.7 million facility.
The school, affiliated to the University of Aberdeen, opened its doors to students in 2008, with students transferring to a new building late last year.
It will produce 20 qualified dentists every year, and today (Tuesday) marks its official opening.
Since September 2008, students of the dental school had been studying at an existing building at the NHS Grampian site, the Dental Education Centre.
Health bosses hope that 10% to 15% of people on the waiting list will be able to get treatment at the school.
The project, jointly funded by the Scottish government and NHS Grampian, was delivered on time and £2.5 million under budget.
Mr Salmond said: ‘The Scottish government is committed to reversing the long-term decline in dentists in Scotland. Since March 2007, the number of dentists has risen by more than 10 %, and we are determined to ensure that this trend continues.
‘This fantastic facility, which was delivered on time and significantly under budget, will play a key part in the Scottish government’s drive to improve the dental service provided to the people of Scotland.
‘Aberdeen Dental School will deliver a significant increase in the number of NHS dentists, and our incentives will help ensure that they stay here and continue to practise in areas such as the north east, where there is most need.’
Dr David Cameron, chairman of NHS Grampian, said: ‘The University of Aberdeen Dental School and Hospital is a unique and high-quality facility which will provide comprehensive oral/dental education and services, and put Grampian in an excellent position to train, recruit and retain dental professionals. The facility represents a major step forward for dentistry in Grampian.’
Two years ago, www.dentistry.co.uk reported that students attending Scotland’s newest dental school were to get their fees paid by the Scottish government.
The cost to study on the four-year post grad course at Aberdeen was to be waived for the students.
At the time, public health minister Shona Robison announced the move in view of the need for more dentists in the area.
She said: ‘It is important we make studying dentistry attractive.’
Last month, it was reported that, despite the opening Aberdeen Dental School, it was thought that up to 26,000 people were still waiting for NHS dental care in the north-east.
In the meantime, Scotland’s health boss were being urged to tackle the crisis by recruiting dentists from overseas.