Why dentist quit the NHS

By Jenni DixonA FORMER NHS dentist has said he regrets not being able treat more patients following claims it is increasingly difficult to find an NHS dentist in Suffolk.

By Jenni Dixon

A FORMER NHS dentist has said he regrets not being able treat more patients following claims it is increasingly difficult to find an NHS dentist in Suffolk.

Dr Peter Wagg, general dental practitioner at the Angel Link Dental Practice in Halesworth, left the NHS 10 years ago because of the long hours, low pay and lack of training and support for his staff.

He thought about quitting dentistry altogether, but found leaving the NHS instead gave him the opportunity to practice his profession to his satisfaction.


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"At the time of my conversion away from the health service, I was spending 55 hours each week treating patients and finding it a load I was barely able to sustain," said Dr Wagg.

"Despite the long hours, it was always a struggle to make ends meet and there was constant frustration that my staff were not receiving the support and training they deserved, or my family the love and attention that was theirs by right.

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"Eventually, I felt compelled to choose between getting out of the health service, getting out of dentistry or getting out of Britain.

"Since converting, the number patients I see each day has reduced and the time I can spend with each one has increased."

Dr Wagg spoke out after it was claimed families were finding it increasingly difficult to find an NHS dentist in the county, especially in north Suffolk, because of a serious shortage of NHS dentists or full NHS surgery lists.

"While it is generally true that my patients pay more per item of treatment than they would have done on the NHS, I find myself doing less complex treatment, as to their credit, the vast majority are maintaining their own dental health to a higher standard," he said.

"I bitterly regret that many people within our community who I would like to help are barred from seeing me by their reluctance or inability to pay my fees, but if I open the doors to one, I must open them to all without favour."

Richard Ward, a consultant in dental public health for the Suffolk Public Health Network, said on average access to an NHS dentist in Suffolk as a whole was better than the national average.

But he added; "There are pockets of difficulties, generally north of Halesworth, in the Leiston area and around Brandon."

jenni.dixon@eadt.co.uk

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