Anger after dentist stops NHS treatment
By David LennardELDERLY patients have been left “devastated” after no longer being able to receive NHS dental treatment.Anne Thomas, from Walpole, has been searching for a dentist in the Halesworth area prepared to treat her elderly aunt, Sue Warry.
By David Lennard
ELDERLY patients have been left “devastated” after no longer being able to receive NHS dental treatment.
Anne Thomas, from Walpole, has been searching for a dentist in the Halesworth area prepared to treat her elderly aunt, Sue Warry.
The hunt began after the Angel Link Dental Practice in Halesworth was forced to stop treating some of its adult patients on the NHS.
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Miss Warry, 80, from Halesworth, was among a group of patients who were informed by letter that they could no longer be treated as NHS patients at the dental practice.
“My elderly aunt was devastated when she read the letter handed to her after her last dental treatment,” said Ms Thomas.
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“She, like very many elderly people, has benefited from NHS dental treatment free at the point of delivery, which is available to her.”
She added that because her aunt was on a low income, there was “no way” she could afford to pay for private dental treatment.
“I have trawled through the NHS website and find that there are no accessible dental practices in Halesworth or the wider area still taking on new NHS patients and am at a total loss as to know how to advise my relative,” said Ms Thomas.”
Peter Wagg, senior partner at the Angel Link Dental Practice, sympathised with the plight that Miss Warry and other patients now found themselves in, but said he was left with little choice.
“We were a five-dentist practice, but now we are a two-dentist practice, so some really difficult decisions had to be made,” he added.
“We could not go on treating the same number of patients and give them the treatment that they or, indeed we, would want them to receive.”
Mr Wagg said there had been no alternative, but to reduce the number of patients on the books of the practice.
“We have kept all our patients fully informed of the situation we find ourselves in and a letter was sent to them explaining that they are still entitled to emergency dental care for the next three months,” he added.
Mr Wagg said the problem of attracting dentists to his surgery was part of a national shortage.
“We have spare surgery capacity in our own premises which we would gladly fill if only, like our colleagues, we could attract dentists to this area,” he added.
A spokesman for Waveney Primary Care Trust said the nearest dental surgery to Halesworth currently accepting NHS patients was in Station Road, Beccles.
He added the lack of NHS dental provision had been well chronicled, but said Waveney was in a stronger position than other parts of the UK as 60% of the population was registered with a NHS dentist, compared with a national average nearer 30% .
“We acknowledge that the situation could be improved and we are looking at a number of options to improve the position,” said the spokesman.