- Published: Thursday, 20 April 2023 07:41
- Written by Peter Ingle
- Hits: 2606
It is barely a fortnight since the bombshell announcement that 85 of the BUPA Dental Care practices were to be either closed or, if buyers could be found for some of them, sold on. But they have not been the only corporate having to face the challenges of keeping practices with NHS contracts both staffed and viable.
The largest corporate group, MyDentist has been closing practices for some time now, usually in ones and twos. MyDentist have now announced the closure of their practice in Dalton, near Barrow in Furness, which will close on April 21st. All appointments after this date have been cancelled. According to the Mail in South Cumbria, Liza Butler who had worked at the practice for 18 years said: “Me and my colleagues are all absolutely gutted the practice is closing.” The local paper also reported the unhappy response of residents, including the summing up by one that, “We are going to become a gummy society!!”
Like most of the BUPA closures, MyDentist Dalton provided NHS as well as Private treatment, and as a result NHS access is likely to become even poorer.
In their statement MyDentist said, ““The decision to close the practice has not been taken lightly. Unfortunately, difficulties experienced in recruiting dentists to the area and increased running costs, have prevented the practice from operating sustainably.”
According to one local resident, one of the dentists in Dalton had left to go private, and MyDentist could not get a replacement. This may explain the short notice for the closure.
The BUPA practice in nearby Barrow is closing at the end of June as one of the 85 announced a fortnight ago. The NHS Find a dentist website shows that there are no practices within a 10 mile radius of Dalton taking on new NHS patients.
Cumbrian Lib Dem MP Tim Farron, who represents the nearby Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency has spoken out before on the collapse of NHS dental access in the area, and has now taken the unusual step of writing directly to local practices. This follows the revelation that NHS England had written to dental practices in the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board area and asked if they would provide additional NHS care with a new funding model. There was a poor level of take up. This prompted the MP to write to the practices to both highlight the NHS offer and also help him understand why so few practices had taken it up.
His letter said: "You do brilliant work to care for the dental health of adults and children in our area and so I’m writing to ask you what I can do to help during this difficult time for dental practices.
"l was made aware that NHS England had recently written to all dental practices across Lancashire and South Cumbria asking for an expression of interest as to whether you would be interested in taking on additional NHS dental work with a new funding formula which was paid per session as opposed to being based on how many units of dental activity were delivered.
"I am keen to try to get more NHS dentists operating across my constituency but in order to do this l believe it would be invaluable to get a better insight into why you have not responded, if you have recently handed back your NHS contract and why, and to get feedback on factors which hinder you from taking up such work."
The letter ends with a list of questions for the dental practice to respond to. It will be fascinating to see what responses Mr Farron receives.
According to the Mail in South Cumbria , “there are currently no NHS spaces available in the county.”
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