NHS dental services will be stopped in two villages, sparking concerns about patients’ access to alternative services.
NHS England (Cumbria and the North East) has announced that operations will cease at Coquetdale Dental Practice – which has centres in Rothbury and Hadston.
The NHS says that, due to personal circumstances, Simon Francis, who runs the surgeries, is no longer in a position to continue to deliver NHS dental services and therefore his contract with NHS England will end tomorrow.
It means that NHS patients currently accessing services from his Rothbury or Hadston (Broomhill Health Centre) practices will need to access an alternative practice for NHS dental care.
An NHS England spokeswoman said: “We appreciate that this may cause some concern, but there are other NHS dental practices in the surrounding areas and NHS England is actively exploring opportunities to increase access for patients. We do acknowledge that this will involve travel for many patients.”
The NHS has said that provision will be given to those who have started treatment, to enable completion.
NHS England is initiating a Request for Information process to gauge the level of market interest in light of the rurality of the areas, the level of activity required and the workforce/recruitment issues, which will inform next steps.
The news has sparked anger, with the areas’ county councillors wanting a resolution. Druridge Bay member Coun Scott Dickinson said he is appalled and plans to lobby for a new provider to take on the services.
He said: “People can’t afford to travel and were previously told no NHS appointments were available nearby. I am concerned and I hope a solution which creates provision from both sites is found.”
Coun Steven Bridgett, ward member for Rothbury, said that he is deeply concerned that NHS England ‘will not guarantee continuity and provision of a dental service for the local area going forward.’
He also accused NHS England of not giving the dental practitioner or the community ‘the level of support they should expect and deserve’.