Ed Davey and Alex Cole-Hamilton officially launch Scottish Liberal Democrats’ election campaign with calls to save NHS dentistry

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton today officially launched the Scottish party’s campaign for the General Election.

The pair held a rally with candidates and activists in North Queensferry, beneath the iconic Forth Bridge, to set out how the party is targeting the “acid yellow wall of the SNP” to win the change Scotland desperately needs.

They also highlighted how NHS dentistry has been left to rot all across the UK, leaving millions without the care they need.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said:

Just like the Conservatives, the SNP have got to go. They have failed Scotland for far too long. They’ve shown people that they can’t be trusted with the economy, our NHS, the environment or our place in the world.

It’s clear that in many parts of Scotland it is the Scottish Liberal Democrats who can get the SNP out. This election is our chance to deliver the change Scotland desperately needs.

Our strong local champions will stand up for their communities and fight for a fair deal.

Take dentistry, where people the length and breadth of the UK are finding they can’t see an NHS dentist. It’s a national scandal that children’s teeth are left to rot and people are forced to carry out their own dental work. It’s time to end dental deserts and bring back local NHS dentists right across the UK.

Getting you fast access to an NHS dentist is at the heart of our offer to voters at this election. A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to save NHS dentistry.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton told the crowd:

Right here in Fife there isn’t a single NHS dentist currently open to new patients.

People are resorting to DIY dentistry and buying tools off Amazon to do the job themselves because they can’t get an NHS dentist. Some Ukrainians have even travelled back to Kyiv for dental care because the air raid sirens, drone strikes and cruise missiles are less daunting than the waits in Scotland’s NHS.

The SNP promised to scrap dental charges, but instead they have introduced new charges and doubled the price of some procedures. Dentists are being driven away from the NHS because working with this SNP Government is harder than pulling teeth.

No matter how much pain you are in, seeing an NHS dentist in Scotland is harder than ever before. It’s a stark reminder of how the SNP make empty promises and can’t get the basics right.

Under the SNP the NHS is on its knees, our schools have slipped down the international rankings, and the government-owned water company is dumping sewage on our beaches and in rivers like the Forth.

People have had enough and the Scottish Liberal Democrats are on the side of everyone tired of SNP neglect.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats’ plan to fix NHS dentistry includes:

  • Overhauling the SNP’s failed Recovery Plan, which barely mentioned dentists.
  • In doing so we would prioritise workforce planning and boosting the number of dentists taking on NHS patients.
  • Speeding up the registration process for qualified dentists from overseas.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have helped uncover that:

  • The number of dentists doing NHS work has fallen in nearly every health board and is down more than 160 compared to before the pandemic. The biggest decreases were in Lothian (41 fewer dentists), Glasgow (36), Highland (31) and Fife (25).
  • 1.8 million people in Scotland (a third of everyone registered) haven’t had an examination or treatment from an NHS dentist in the past three years.
  • 560,000 people (1 in 10 registered) haven’t seen their NHS dentist in the last 10 years.
  • Children and young people are waiting up to 3 years for hospital-based dental treatment.
  • NHS dental examinations are still down 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

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This entry was posted in News, Press releases and Scotland.


  • Perhaps the long term solution is to establish a bona fida NHS general dentistry system. We do need to ask why NHS GP practises seem to thrive (and do relatively little private practise work) yet dentistry practises seem to require a much higher level of private work to survive and regard NHS patients as a bit of a nuisance and something only really to be used to fill in the gaps between private patients. Also given the current state of the market, one could be excused for asking why US healthcare businesses haven’t stepped into the UK dentistry market…

  • @Roland NHS general practices are certainly not thriving. Many are on their knees.

    Another difference is that GPs act as gatekeepers for NHS hospital treatment (you can’t self-refer to an NHS specialist in most cases), but there’s no real equivalent to that for dentistry.

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