1,000 left without NHS dental cover at Appleby

Date: Monday 26th November 2018

AN estimated 1,000 dental patients will not be able to access NHS cover in Appleby despite the opening of a new practice.

Appleby NHS Dental Practice opened at the Shire Hall last montn, following the closure of what was the town’s only NHS dentist, My Dentist, at the Riverside Building, Chapel Street, in December, 2017.

Patients who had been left without a provider for nine months branded the lack of cover as “appalling” but thought the problem had been solved when the new NHS practice was launched.

At the time, NHS England issued a letter to patients assuring them there would be sufficient capacity for all those without care. However, Appleby NHS Dental Practice has been forced to close registration and a waiting list has been set up “should future capacity allow”.

Staff at the practice have told patients that its contract from NHS England does not cater for all those left without NHS cover on the closure of My Dentist. Around 1,000 people are left without care.

Both the practice and NHS England have said that due to the overwhelming number of patients registering, the process will take some time.

Healthwatch Cumbria, which has been contacted by a number of worried patients, said the advice to “sit and wait” was not good enough, and has urged the practice to improve its communication. The body, an independent organisation set up to champion the views of patients in the county, was unaware the practice had posted on its website that registration was now closed.

Staff at Appleby NHS Dental Practice declined to comment when approached by the Herald. A spokesman for NHS England said the contract commissioned reflected the number of patients who accessed the previous practice over the preceding 24 months and the average number of units of dental activity generated.

The NHS England spokesman said: “We appreciate that the demand on the new NHS dentist in Appleby is significant due to the length of time that Appleby has been without an NHS service. The level of demand has been much higher than expected as a result of patients from Appleby and the wider area seeking immediate dental treatment.

“We have worked with the new practice and other practices across the wider area to explore options to ensure that patients get the required access to dental services as soon as possible.

“We have funded an additional dentist to work at the Appleby practice until the end of March, 2019, to help meet demand. We have also funded additional appointments from other NHS dentists that have capacity.”