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Publication - Consultation Paper

Scotland's Oral Health Plan: consultation on the future of oral health

Published: 15 Sep 2016
Part of:
Health and social care

Consultation on how we take dental services forward to meet the challenges of the future.

56 page PDF


56 page PDF


Scotland's Oral Health Plan: consultation on the future of oral health
2 Background

56 page PDF


2 Background

NHS Dental Services

2.1 The majority of General Dental Practitioners ( GDPs), like family doctors, are independent contractors who provide General Dental Services ( GDS) on behalf of NHS Boards. This model remains at the cornerstone of the delivery of primary care dental services and the Scottish Government expects routine NHS dental services for the general population to be provided by GDPs in a local setting that is convenient to the patient.

2.2 Public Dental Service ( PDS) dentists are employed by NHS Boards. The primary function of this service is to provide GDS to patients with special care needs (e.g. people with a learning disability). The PDS also provides routine GDS in geographical areas where it may be impractical or difficult to access GDS through a GDP, for example in remote and rural locations.

2.3 The Hospital Dental Service ( HDS) accepts patients on referral from medical and dental practitioners for consultant advice and treatment (if appropriate) for cases of special difficulty. They provide secondary care services and in the special case of dental hospitals, where substantial numbers of patients are treated as part of the teaching commitment, routine NHS dental services to the general public.

NHS Dental Workforce

2.4 There has been a substantial increase in the NHS dental workforce in Scotland in recent years. The figure for primary care dentists, i.e. those who work as independent GDPs and for the PDS, has increased by 30 per cent between September 2007 and March 2016.


2.5 The number of dental vocational trainees and dental students successfully completing their undergraduate training in Scotland continues to remain strong and will help sustain improvements in the dental workforce levels.

2.6 Scotland also trains the full range of dental care professionals ( DCPs), including hygienists, nurses and therapists.

Health and Social Care Partnerships

2.7 In addition to the changing landscape in NHS dentistry and the improvements in oral health, Health and Social Care Partnerships ( H&SCPs) became fully operational on 1 April 2016. This has resulted in NHS, including both the GDS and PDS, and local council care services being brought together under a partnership arrangement in 31 areas in Scotland to deliver preventive, person-centred health and care services.

2.8 H&SCPs are now responsible for strategic planning and commissioning of services so it is therefore important that we acknowledge their future role in locality planning of NHS dental services.


Email: David Notman,