Two major South Gloucestershire dental practices have confirmed they’re now private, claiming to have “not received any reply or acknowledgement” of their correspondence with NHS England.
Frampton Dental Surgery in Frampton Cotterell and Flaxpits Lane Dental Surgery in Winterbourne are “moving towards the conversion” to independent dental practices, saying it’s the only way for them to “survive and put the patient’s interest first.”
It comes after Frampton Dental Surgery sent letters to patients in January saying it wass “open as usual for extreme emergencies under the NHS” and has added “some additional out of hours private slots for anything that may not come under the extreme emergency category,” despite some patients claiming to have waited 18 months for a check-up.
At the time, an NHS England spokesperson said it had spoken to Frampton Dental Practice, and that the surgery would be reissuing an updated message to patients.
They said: “Dental practices should be prioritising patients according to clinical need. Changes to infection control guidance means that some dentists are operating at reduced capacity meaning they may not be able to offer services in the way they used to before the coronavirus pandemic.”
Nine months later, the practice, along with Flaxpits Lane Dental, has confirmed it is no longer accepting NHS patients.
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It follows an investigation by Bristol Live in July, which found not a single dental practice in central Bristol is taking on new NHS patients, leaving hundreds of residents having to fork out on private dental care.
Frampton and Flaxpits were two of the main NHS dental surgeries to serve the north Bristol area.
But since becoming private, patients have said they “are going elsewhere,” with one woman on a local Facebook group calling the letter “insulting.”
Another claimed her daughter’s braces appointment, which she had been waiting for for a year, had been cancelled hours beforehand due to the surgery “going private.”
Meanwhile another resident said she “feel[s] bad for the patients and the dentists.”
“The government has cut its funding so severely that they would be continuing at a loss. Sadly most dental practices have no choice but to charge,” she wrote.
The letter to patients, by Dr Dimitri Haddjeri, states the NHS dentistry system is “not preventive, only target driven.”
It states the surgeries have been trying to engage NHS England in talks, but has “not received any reply or acknowledgement of our correspondence.”
Bristol Live approached NHS England for a comment but it is yet to respond.
The letter continues: “The system is not fit for purpose as, simply, it doesn’t adhere to the medical principles of dentistry and, consequently, doesn’t put the interest of the patient first.
“NHS England have raised the target and, due to time constraints, the practice will be simply unable to satisfy this request without putting at risk the safety of patients and staff.
“The practice will then be penalised with a claw back making the business, which has already faced a general increase in expenses, unsustainable and not viable anymore with our current NHS contract.
“For this reason, we are now moving towards the conversion to an independent dental practice, as we believe it is the only way in order for the practice to survive and put the patient’s interest first
“This will mean that more time will be allocated for the patients which, due to the current situation will remain as a new normal.”
In an interview with BBC, Vicky Marriott of Healthwatch, an independent statutory body representing patients, said not having an option to have NHS care was a “real concern.”
Frampton and Flaxpits Lane Dental says there are an “increasing number of practices [going private],” and is offering two options for patients: a pay as you go option or monthly dental plan.
How have you been affected by not being able to see an NHS dentist? Let me know by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
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