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Caithness News Bulletins March 2005

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Far North MSP Jamie Stone has called for more creative thinking from political quarters to address the problems with NHS dental services in rural areas.

Speaking in a debate on dentistry in the Scottish Parliament, he suggested that the NHS look to the example of the armed forces and consider sponsoring dental students through their training, in return for an agreed number of years service to the NHS once qualified.

Commenting on the matter, Mr Stone said: " I believe that in dentistry we could emulate what the armed forces do. They pay students a salary while they are at university on condition that they sign up to the colours for five years.

"We could do that with dental students, who could agree to be put where a particular NHS board wanted them to go.  "That sort of creative thinking from all political quarters is what is needed to address the problem."

He continued: "The dental issue almost transcends party politics. In the Highlands, members of all parties except the Scottish Socialist Party > -> have been working together with NHS highlands in a think-tank to try to come up with solutions."  It is not simply about numbers of dentists. We could have all the dentists in the world in Scotland but we need to persuade them to come to remoter areas such as Caithness.

"It is important that we continue to make progress in developing the outreach system for the Far North, which will see a number of students come to the area to work in a practice for a period. We hope that this will increase the chance that they will stay there."

New Dental Training Facility At Wick