Lack of dentists forces practice closure
- Credit: Archant
A Suffolk dental practice is being forced to close because it can’t recruit enough dentists.
The Bupa Dental Care practice in Crown Street, Leiston, will close its doors at the end of March.
Residents have been sent letters in which Bupa stated that it would try to complete any outstanding treatment before March 31.
It also confirmed the practice would still be available for emergency appointments up until March 31.
The company told residents they could be transferred to the next closest Bupa practice, which is in Colchester, or find themselves another NHS dentist.
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Leiston is home to more than 5,000 people for whom there will now only be one dentists - mydentist in the High Street.
Yvonne Frattaroli, area manager at Bupa Dental Care said "We've taken the difficult decision to close our dental practice in Leiston.
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"We have long struggled to recruit dentists in the area and, despite our best efforts, I'm afraid we are no longer able to keep the practice open.
"The practice will remain open until March 31 2020 and everything will run as normal until then.
"I'd like to assure patients that we're working with the NHS and nearby practices to help them find a new dentist. Wherever possible, we'll be supporting our staff to move to other roles within the business."
A practice of the size of Bupa's should have three, full-time working dentists to staff it.
Instead, it is currently home to just one dentist who only works part-time.
Bupa said that it had worked hard to try and attract dentists to the area, including from abroad.
It also said that the case of the practice was symptomatic of recruitment problems more generally in the industry.
The British Dental Association (BDA) has warned the closure of the Leiston practice is just the latest evidence of the crisis hitting access to services across England.
BDA chair of general dental practice, Dave Cottam said: "Across England patients are facing a perfect storm, as practices struggling to fill vacancies shut up shop.
"Years of underfunding and failed contracts are driving talent out of our NHS. There is nothing inevitable about this. Millions have been left without access to the care they need as a direct result of choices made in Westminster.
"We can't have NHS dentistry without NHS dentists. The new government has a responsibility to ensure this service has a future."