The Western Isles Integration Joint Board (IJB) and NHS Western Isles are currently reviewing the way in which dental care is provided in the Uists. Over the last year, we have been engaging with staff, stakeholders and community representatives to discuss changes that we want to introduce.
The Integration Joint board formally considered its options around service development, based on a range of factors. Our aspiration is to provide high quality dental care, which is safe and effective and delivered by a well-supported professional team. We want the service to be as accessible as possible, and responsive to individual need and circumstances. We want to be able to deliver dental care in a high quality clinical space, including a welcoming service environment which delivers a satisfying patient experience. Finally, we want our service to be sustainable so that we can meet our financial obligations and continue to attract and retain the best quality staff.
Following a detailed consultation process, the Integration Joint Board has decided that its preferred model for the delivery of dental care in Uist is to have a single service operating from a renovated Uist and Barra Hospital. That would involve the closure of the existing clinics in Lochmaddy and Liniclate (the clinic in Lochboisdale has already closed because of concerns about the quality of the building) and relocating all dental staff into a central hub within Uist and Barra Hospital. This will result in a higher quality clinical environment and a more sustainable service. Other hospital services will not be affected by this proposal. Recognising that we intend to move to a single site, we would operate an outreach service to disabled people and frail older people, thereby offering a more responsive arrangement for people with mobility problems by providing home visits.
We believe that there are numerous additional benefits to this model, including:
- The development of a single dental team, ensuring better levels of cover during periods of leave or ill-health;
- A team environment which provides greater levels of peer support, assisting with recruitment and retention and quality of care;
- On-site support from other health and social care professionals in relation to complex care needs;
- Local sterilisation of instruments and ready access to X-rays not possible in the existing clinics;
- A properly equipped Hub would be used to attract the visiting oral surgery service to attend Uist.
However, we also recognise that there are some new elements to the proposed service, the main one being that some people may have further to travel to access dental care. The provision of home visits is one way in which we will seek to address access issues, but we would also like to explore other options to make it easier to access dental care and as such have composed the following questionnaire: