NHS general dental services (GDS) are provided by general dental practitioners. These dentists are either in contract with, or employed by, their local NHS Board to provide general dental care and treatment.
From the 1st of January 2014, dentists employed by their local NHS Board provide dental care and treatment under what is known as the Public Dental Service (PDS).
General dental practitioners outwith the PDS are independent contractors, who can:
- choose whether to join or resign from an NHS Board's dental list
- choose whether or not to provide NHS dental treatment to a patient who is not registered with them
- give notice to a patient registered with them that they are withdrawing from the arrangement to provide NHS dental care and treatment
With certain exceptions, dentists should normally give patients three months notice of their intention to withdraw.
Patient charges are the same for dental care and treatment provided by contracted dental practitioners and by practitioners in the PDS.
Under NHS regulations, the NHS NSS Practitioner Services act on behalf of the Scottish Dental Practice Board. NHS NSS Practitioner Services ensure the dental care and treatment provided, or to be provided if prior approval is required:
- is appropriate
- is necessary to secure and maintain the patient's oral health
- is in the patient's best interests
- has or will be carried out with proper skill and attention
On occasion, dental officers of the Scottish Dental Reference Service (part of Practitioner Services) examine patients prior to, or after, their dental treatment.
Additionally, on behalf of the NHS Boards, the NHS NSS Practitioner Services pay contracted dentists fees, allowances and other payments in accordance with the Statement of Dental Remuneration. NHS NSS Practitioner Services have various payment verification and audit processes in place to ensure these payments from public funds are made appropriately.
In order to receive the full range of dental treatment and care under the NHS, you must be registered with a dentist. You can find dentists in your area using our local services directory.