INVERCLYDE MSP Stuart McMillan has slammed the operators of a dentist surgery which is set to close next month after they failed to answer key questions he put to them – and only responded once the Tele stepped in.

The SNP politician had reached out to MyDentist, who run a practice on George Square in Greenock, after they confirmed their premises was due to shut on August 5 due to a shortage of practitioners.

Mr McMillan asked a range of questions about the demographics of the practice’s patients, whether they were registered for NHS or private treatment, if MyDentist’s George Square branch turned a profit and the timing and communication of the decision to close the practice.

The Holyrood representative says his questions were rebuffed by the firm, who have in turn claimed that a ‘technical error’ caused them not to respond to his questions.

A MyDentist spokesperson said they were unable to share sensitive financial information, but confirmed that around 1,500 patients had received NHS care at the practice in the last 12 months. 

Mr McMillan said: “It’s disappointing that it has taken pressure from the Greenock Telegraph for MyDentist to acknowledge my questions and concerns, and I refute their position that they failed to response due to a technical error.

“They explicitly responded to me saying that they weren’t providing any further comment or engaging further on the decision to close their Greenock practice.

“These were questions I’d asked because I wanted to provide patients with more details about the closure.

“MyDentist’s change in tack suggests they are only prepared to engage with me because they now recognise that their approach has only fostered fear and anger amongst local people.

“Nonetheless, I am keen to meet with MyDentist as I want to discuss the recruitment challenges within dentistry – something that I note they never contacted me about before.

“This is despite me having spoken out publicly about access to NHS dentistry and my frequent questions to the Scottish Government on the matter.

“This includes the minister responsible for dentistry visiting a local dental surgery earlier this year at my request, after the management at the surgery proactively engaged with me.

“I’m fully aware that this latest practice closure will only worsen this situation in Inverclyde, so I will write to the Scottish Government once again after I’ve met with MyDentist to highlight the challenges they’ve faced and to call for additional support for local dental surgeries to try to prevent any further closures.”

The news of the practice’s closure was met with shock from panicked patients, who contacted the Tele to share their fears that they could be forced to pay for private dental care.

A spokesperson for MyDentist said: “Over the last five years, we have faced unprecedented recruitment challenges at our Greenock practice due to a national shortage of NHS dentists that is affecting dental providers right across the country.

“We have tried everything to keep the practice open but, despite our best efforts, this has not been possible and we have had to take the difficult decision to close the practice from 30th August.

“Our first priority throughout this process has been the patients in our care.

“We have written to everyone affected to provide advice and support on possible alternative arrangements within the area and have been in regular communication with the local NHS.

“Nevertheless, we understand how concerning this news may be to many people and would like to offer our sincere apologies for the inconvenience it will cause.”