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Dental move upset

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By Zachary Hannah
Annan and Eskdale
Dental move upset

AN Annan dental practice has addressed circulating reports that all NHS services are set to be dropped as ‘false’ and say they will continue to provide some form of NHS care.

Patients at Gunning Dental on Annan High Street, over the age of 21, have received letters stating they will no longer be seen on the NHS by dentists Andrew Gunning or Jayne Grunwell as of May.

The practice blamed the current precarious position of NHS dentistry and cited the need for changes to continue operating effectively as a business and offer the best treatments available.

A private plan is being offered at a cost of £18.27 a month. Anyone who wishes to stay NHS will be retained by the practice – but have been warned that they will be limited to emergency care, while routine NHS care will only come from two junior dentists if, and when, they have availability. However, the letter states that this will be under revision on a monthly basis and the practice expects ‘significant waits’ for appointments.

Addressing the situation, Gillian Gunning, from Gunning Dental, said: “The

letter explains that Jayne and Andrew shall no longer be seeing adults over 21 years of age under the NHS.

“These patients will be invited to join a preventative plan if they wish to see Andrew or Jayne.

“We have lost three associate dentists in the last few years to work over the border in Carlisle and have been unable to replace them. “Unfortunately the NHS service we provide and the accessibility of that care will always be at risk due to recruitment and NHS funding shortfalls, but for now we are persevering in trying to find other ways and models of care to accommodate it.”

The problem is not limited to Annan as this week the British Dental Association urged the Scottish Government to deliver meaningful reform to NHS dentistry by the autumn, stressing failure to do so will take the service from crisis to collapse.

Furthermore, recent data suggests a growing exodus from the NHS workforce and claims submitted by NHS dentists for dental work are 43 per cent down on 2019 levels.

However, the Annan practice had already been plotting a move to a new business model, which included reducing NHS provision, prior to the pandemic. Their letter states that discussions were held with patients prior to covid regarding a gradual move towards private care and the practice has now made the decision to move forward with those plans.

However, Gunning patients have expressed fears on social media that they will now face long waits for routine care and could end up with no choice but to fork out for costly treatment, with concerns for the elderly and those on low incomes.

Gillian added: “We have developed skills and interests in a number of treatments not provided on the NHS. When covid started we put this on hold and, when restrictions started to be eased we wanted to focus on catching up with our NHS work.

“This has been exceptionally hard and despite providing over 36,000 appointments within the practice in the last two and half years, 75 per cent of which were NHS, we are still catching up.

“Our decision to proceed has been bolstered by growing uncertainty and removal of some of our NHS funding, escalating running costs and the inability to recruit new dentists to work in our rural setting within the NHS.”

She also discussed the renovation work at the surgery, saying: “All investment and renovation of our surgeries and equipment to date has been independently funded and paid for, bar a small proportion of one of our dental chairs.”

Appealing for understanding from patients, she added: “These decisions have been exceptionally hard but necessary and these issues are not unique to us. We were faced with a choice of providing no NHS care at all or trying to continue to provide an NHS service.

“We recognise that we have to innovate and progress to recruit. We will continue to try and recruit NHS dentists but are having to plan for a future where this will continue to be exceptionally difficult and where our NHS funding does not meet the costs of providing NHS care.”

 

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