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Nhs Grampian has been accused by health professionals of using the private sector to distort orthodontic waiting lists.

The Scottish Consultants Orthodontic Group claims the board is sending patients to private consultants for no reason other than to improve its official waiting list figures.

In an open letter to the Deputy Health Minister Rhona Brankin, the chairman of the group Melville Easton said patients were being moved from the top of one waiting list to the bottom of another.

He said many of them were referred back to their dentist with the advice they should go elsewhere for treatment.

He said: "When the subsequent re-referrals are received, the patients then are added to another new patient waiting list.

"The net effect is to shift them from the top of one waiting list to the bottom of the next.

"These expensive and inappropriately-used resources are making no contribution to the care of patients nor addressing the underlying problem."

SNP health spokeswoman Shona Robison said it was essential the allegations were investigated. The Dundee East MSP said: "The charge is they have been fiddling waiting lists to make themselves look better in terms of performance.

"It is a very serious charge from a professional body. It needs to be investigated thoroughly and then the health minister needs to act accordingly."

Richard Carey, chief operating officer of NHS Grampian, denied they had acted inappropriately.

The board use the consultant services of Medinet, a Welsh company.

A spokeswoman said the move had been very successful and had been made on the suggestion of the national waiting times unit.

The board is trying to recruit two full-time orthodontists and currently only employs one.
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