New dental contract on track, but some concern about coverage

Coun Scott Dickinson, who represents the Hadston area.
Coun Scott Dickinson, who represents the Hadston area.

A new dental contract remains on track to be in place by the start of next summer following the loss of services in two Northumberland villages.

Last October, NHS England (Cumbria and the North East) announced that operations were to cease at Coquetdale Dental Practice, which had centres in Rothbury and Hadston.

Due to personal circumstances, Simon Francis, who ran the surgeries, was no longer in a position to continue to deliver NHS dental services and therefore his contract ended.

An update to Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing committee revealed that a seven-year contract with the option to extend for three years was approved by NHS England in August.

This will be a split site with one practice in Rothbury and one in the Hadston/Amble area. Due to concerns about offering a viable contract, the new dental service will have an activity target of double what it was before.

The tender process closed last month and the bids have been evaluated. The next step would be to sign off any recommended bidder at the end of this month before the contract award being issued in December and it then starting in June 2019.

However, Coun Scott Dickinson, the ward member for Druridge Bay, is concerned that the contract may simply result in the extension of provision in Amble and nothing in Hadston.

“This will not address my concerns in relation to barriers of travel and the cost to the locals,” he said.

“We all know how many health conditions come from poor dental hygiene and I think that we should be removing barriers and encouraging people to maintain good dental hygiene.

“I don’t want my community isolated and left without access.”

Coun Dickinson also pointed out that the Broomhill Medical Group building, which has recently undergone a £1.5million refurbishment, has a dental facility sitting empty.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service