A row has broken out over moves to centralise dental services in the Outer Hebrides that will see some islanders facing 70-mile round trips.

The plan involves closing three district dental surgeries in Uist but has faced massive local opposition.

The decision by the Western Isles Integrated Joint Board rules out re-opening a clinic in Southend while dental surgeries in Lochmaddy and Liniclate would be axed. The clinic in Lochboisdale closed in April 2017.

NHS Western Isles said yesterday it is set to introduce an upgraded clinical hub to the Uist and Barra Hospital following a decision to redesign the way dental services are delivered.

Under the proposed new arrangements, a new four-chair dental suite will operate from the hospital site in Balivanich, which will allow the service to be co-located with other clinical services.

It represents the first step in providing a one-stop hub for patients, says the health board.

But Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan said he had raised the worries with Public Health Minister Joe Fitzpatrick.

He said: “This was a useful and productive meeting, where I was able to outline the various concerns of communities in Uist when it comes to these proposals.

“I am grateful for the minister taking the time to listen to my concerns and for his commitments to press the IJB and health board for significantly more detail on the plans being put forward.

“I cannot ignore the concerns of health professionals, and the warnings from dental professionals this move will adversely affect oral health outcomes

for people in Uist, particularly the most vulnerable groups.

“Ultimately, I do not believe this kind of service change can go ahead with the present level of local opposition, which is all but unanimous in Uist.

“I have asked whether the Scottish Government is in a position to call

these proposals in or, failing that, establish an independent scrutiny panel to independently examine what is being put forward.”

NHS Western Isles says the new service will focus on reducing the existing waiting times for registration while continuing to provide high quality dental care.

A spokesman said: “The new service will also operate outreach provision, to provide dental care to frail older people and disabled people in their own homes or in a local environment.”

“By deploying new mobile dental chairs, the service will become more flexible and can be set up safely and effectively in a variety of environments, from community centres to care homes. This comes on the back of the Scottish Government’s National Dental Plan, which recognises the need for dental services to respond to changing demographics and our ageing society.

“Work will be undertaken over the next few months to develop an implementation plan, which will describe the physical changes to the hospital

and will describe how the new service will operate. It is expected the new arrangements will come into place within the next 18 months.

“It is important to underline that none of the existing clinical services provided within the hospital will change.

“While there will be a need to reconfigure the physical space, All of the essential and existing medical services will continue to be provided, including emergency medicine.”