A SCOTTISH Government minister has been given an insight into how a Borders health practice is providing vital access to NHS dental care.

Problems with getting an appointment with an NHS dentist are an ongoing issue both regionally and nationwide.

That is being addressed at Duns Dental Care, a dental practice which opened in February last year thanks to funding from the Scottish Dental Access Initiative (SDAI).

On Monday (April 15) the practice welcomed Ms Jenni Minto, MSP and minister for public health and women’s health, for a tour of the facility.

SDAI provides financial assistance to dentists to purchase an existing dental practice, open a new practice or expand an existing practice to widen and support access to NHS dental care.

These grants are especially focused in areas where patients would benefit most, such as in rural communities.

NHS Borders director of dentistry Adelle McElrath and the principal dentist and owner of Duns Dental Care, Fary Johnston, showed the minister around the fully NHS-committed practice and discussed the process of opening the practice as well as international recruitment.  

Following this, Ms Minto met NHS Borders chief executive Ralph Roberts and chair Karen Hamilton at Coldstream Dental Centre.

This gave a valuable opportunity to introduce to the minister to the Scottish Borders Health & Social Care Partnership oral health strategic plan 2024-2036, which is currently being developed.

Ms McElrath said: “We were so pleased to welcome Ms Minto to the Borders and talk about the dedicated recruitment work we’ve undertaken over the last year.

“This has encouraged seven dentists to come to the Scottish Borders which has helped to improve patient access to dental care in the region.

“At the moment we are continuing to develop a new oral health strategic plan which we are currently seeking feedback on. This will ensure that your views are taken into consideration when we are shaping the improvement plan for dental care in the Borders over the next decade or so.”

Ms Minto added: “I was delighted to visit the hard-working teams at Duns Dental Care and Coldstream Dental Centre to learn about the important ongoing work in the Borders, and the positive impact that Scottish Government funding has had on the community.”