‘This is a very difficult decision’ – Sheffield dental surgery no longer able to offer NHS care

A Sheffield dental surgery say they will ‘regrettably and in the short term’ be unable to offer NHS care.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 4:57 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 12:38 pm
Stock image (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images).

Sandygate Dental on Sandygate Road in Crosspool says it has taken the ‘very difficult decision’ to reduce its patient list due to lack of capacity.

They said they were doing ‘everything they could’ to fill a vacant post but also blamed ‘chronic underinvestment’ in NHS dentistry, with payments not matching spiralling costs for surgeries.

Practice manager, Nicola Alesbrook, said the decision had not been ‘taken lightly’ and recognised they had many loyal patients who would be affected by the change.

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She said: “Chronic underinvestment in NHS dentistry means that we, like many other committed NHS dentists, struggle to pay our overheads and all the costs involved in running a well-equipped modern dental practice that our patients deserve.”

“Dental budgets have failed to keep pace with inflation and the population growth of three million. Rather than invest directly in dentistry, the government continues to raise patient charges, which have increased by over 30 per cent since 2010.

“However, it isn’t only our patients who are bearing the brunt of ever increasing charges but practice owners are having to finance this shortfall in investment themselves, and unfortunately for Sandygate, this situation is no longer sustainable.”

Nicola said more than two thirds of NHS practices in England struggled to fill their vacancies in the last year.

She added the British Dental Association believed the figures reflect ‘widespread disillusionment’ in the profession, with levels of NHS commitment now a leading driver of low morale and motivation.

“We are acutely aware that it is this recruitment crisis that is having major knock-on effects on patient access and this is as frustrating for us as it is for our patients,” she said.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “We are aware of the issues raised by Sandygate Dental Practice and are in regular dialogue with them to work these through.

“NHS England is allocating additional funding of £1.29m to dental practices in Sheffield between 2018 and 2021 to improve access to dental care, meaning more patients will be able to see a local dentist when they need to.

“Patients can access NHS dental services at any practice that holds a contract with NHS England which is taking on new patients. Practices that are accepting new patients can be found on the NHS website at www.nhs.uk.”