Dental practices ‘hung out to dry’ over new funding cuts

dental practice funding cutsJohn Healey MP is warning cuts to funding could see almost 5,000 patients lose access to their dentist.

The Access to General Dental Services funding enables 4,832 patients to receive treatment across Rotherham in Wath, Swinton, Rawmarsh, Bramley, Thurcroft and Maltby.

But with the funding coming to an end, some practices are already turning patients away for their next check up.

‘This vital funding has enabled some 5,000 patients to see a dentist, many for the first time in years,’ Steve Thompson, chair of the Rotherham LDC, says.

‘There couldn’t be a worse time to pull the plug on funding. This will only leave many families struggling trying to find care in already challenging times.

‘The clock is ticking, and there is little to no communication on how we will manage patients.’

Funding cuts

In 2018 LDCs successfully campaigned for NHSE Yorkshire to keep £40m of the £100m clawback in dentistry for various projects.

South Yorkshire LAT asked practices to tender for extra UDAs on a three-year contract, practice manager Shelley Hodgson claims.

She highlights the stipulation for taking on the UDAs was to treat at least 500 new patients. In all, 5,000 patients across six practices in Rotherham alone now have access to a dentist that otherwise would not have.

‘For us that’s 750 people we have gained trust and built relationships with,’ Shelley explains. ‘There is now no plan of what will happen to them come April.

‘We still have not heard officially that this money will not continue. All they tell us is that we took this on on a fixed-term basis. And the area team would like to offer us assistance with the wording of the letter that I will have to send out to the 750 patients explaining that we are reducing our capacity and we can no longer offer them dental care.

‘They also did not want this to cause mass panic if the public heard about it.

‘We are now nearly at the end of January. I will have to act soon to seek HR advice and give staff enough notice to terminate contracts.

‘I also would like to give the patients as much notice as possible too.

‘Our associate dentist will lose two days a week. And I will lose a part-time dental nurse.

‘We are devastated by this and feel that we have been hung out to dry by the decision makers.

‘It will be us trying to explain to patients why we can no longer see them and us who will have to pay staff off.’

Access problems

James Wild MP, representative for north west Norfolk, is also fighting for better support for the profession.

His constituents are struggling to access NHS dentistry. Speaking to BBC Radio Norfolk, he says COVID-19 has deepened the severity of the situation in the area.

‘We need short-term plans but also medium and long-term solutions,’ he said.

This also follows the closure of an NHS dental practice in his constituency, reports Lynn News. In an online survey set up by Mr Wild, only 65% reported having a dentist.

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