Hundreds back campaign for NHS dentists
HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition calling for an NHS dental service to be reinstated in their town.The petition, signed by about 600 people, was launched after residents in the Stowmarket area spoke of their dismay at having to drive nine miles to Lavenham, or even further to Ipswich or Bury St Edmunds to find a dentist willing to take on new NHS patients.
By John Howard
HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition calling for an NHS dental service to be reinstated in their town.
The petition, signed by about 600 people, was launched after residents in the Stowmarket area spoke of their dismay at having to drive nine miles to Lavenham, or even further to Ipswich or Bury St Edmunds to find a dentist willing to take on new NHS patients.
The problem started when people registered with the Milanovic and Gaskell Dental Practice in Stowmarket were told that it was moving away from the NHS.
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The practice took the action because it did not believe it could offer as good a quality of care to its adult patients as it would like while it remained within the NHS and the practice encouraged people to book under a private appointment system from March.
Some people managed to register as NHS patients with another practice in the town, after queuing to sign on, but others found that all dentists' lists in Stowmarket were closed to new NHS patients.
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John Matthissen, a parish councillor from Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, is one of those people who has been unable to find an NHS dental practice to take him on. He has helped organise the petition in his role as a Stowmarket Green Party co-ordinator.
He said: “NHS dental care is in grievous short supply, and is such an important part of health provision.
“A lot of people cannot afford to go to the dentist if they are not on the NHS and we have found that at least 10% of people at one village near Stowmarket just have not registered with any dentist.
“If you are on a below average wage, you can struggle. People have been very keen to support this petition and we are hopeful we can win the day and see a dentist working in the town taking on new NHS patients again.''
A spokesman for the Suffolk East PCTs said: “We are well aware that a practice in Stowmarket are reducing their NHS commitment and intend to look for additional provision in the area.''
The petition, which has been available from some local councillors and at the pharmacy at Combs Ford in Stowmarket, is still available to be signed. It will be presented to health bosses on February 14.