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Holt dental practice will stop seeing NHS patients

4:16 PM September 3, 2022

Dental patients will soon no longer receive treatment from the NHS at a surgery in North Norfolk, which blamed the move on underinvestment and soaring costs.

The Compass Clinic at Kelling Hospital, near Holt, has written to its patients saying it will only be accepting private patients from November 30.

A letter from the clinic says: “Due to a chronic lack of investment in NHS dentistry by successive governments, coupled with rapidly rising costs, we no longer believe we can provide the level of dental care at which you expect and remain a viable business.”

Compass said that, like “many other NHS practices” across the UK, it had to make “crucial decisions” to ensure its survival.

The letter continued: “As such, we have made the decision to move away from the NHS and will see no more patients under the NHS from November 30.

“Instead, we will be here to provide your dental care on a private basis.”

The letter invites patients to join a paid membership plan.

Among the affected Compass patients is Lucy Barnes, from Holt. She said the announcement “came a bit of a shock” and would add to the crisis in the cost of living and soaring energy prices.

Ms Barnes said the membership plan would be unaffordable.

She said: “I calculated it would cost me and my two daughters £390 a year. We’re usually told to come every nine months.

“I usually pay around £20 and of course my children have been free. It’s just unaffordable and unfortunately it’s going to mean a lot of people stop attending these crucial exams.”

According to the NHS website, the only dental practice accepting new patients in North Norfolk is Grovefield in North Walsham, and only if they are referred.

In May, figures released by the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) showed thatacross Norfolk and Waveney there was only one dentist for every 2,600 people.

The region had only 38 dentists per 100,000 inhabitants.

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Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk, said he would look to meet with Compass to see if there was any chance they could retain some NHS capacity in the future.

Mr Baker said: ‘This is another sign of the dismal underinvestment in the provision of NHS dental care.

Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk
– Credit: public domain

“We will not get around this problem unless we have a fundamental and comprehensive reform of the contract system and pay NHS dentists an amount equivalent to that of the private sector.”

Mr Baker said attracting dentists to rural areas such as North Norfolk was an ongoing challenge, and even when a contract for an NHS dentist was offered – for example recently in Fakenham – no one took it accepted.

He said solutions could include opening a new dental school at the University of East Anglia, for which he had campaigned.

Mr Baker, whose father was an NHS dentist for 34 years, said: ‘Students would train here, qualify and then emanate around.

Making it easier for foreign dentists to work here could also help, he added.

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