Dentist crisis 'to get worse' after closure announcement for practice in Berwick

There are fears dental care in Berwick could “fall back to Victorian standards” once a major practice in the town closes later this year.

By Andrew Coulson
Thursday, 21st July 2022, 4:03 pm

Patients of {my}dentist in Castlegate, including NHS dental patients, have been informed that it will permanently close on September 30 – with “difficulties experienced in recruiting dentists to the area” given as the reason for the closure.

Berwick East county councillor Georgina Hill has emailed chiefs at Northumberland County Council asking for the matter to be discussed as an emergency item at the next meeting of the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

She copied in Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Health Secretary Stephen Barclay, asking what the Government is proposing to do to address the shortage of dentists across the country.

The {my}dentist practice in Castlegate, Berwick. Picture from Google.

Her email also includes the following: “This is obviously a huge worry to residents in Berwick. As it is, it is already extremely difficult to get a dental appointment and now even the private practices in the area only have waiting lists due to the demand.

“This, of course, is no good to the many who are struggling to make ends meet.

“We face the very real prospect of more people resorting to DIY dental treatments and dental care falling back to Victorian standards.”

Isabel Hunter, county councillor for Berwick West with Ord, is one of the patients at the practice.

She said: “There is already an issue trying to get an appointment with an NHS dentist in the Berwick area and it is now going to get worse.

“We are now at the stage where we need national help, as this is going to have a detrimental impact on people's health of all ages – from children to OAPs.”

The letter on behalf of the team at {my}dentist in Castlegate includes the following: “The decision to close the practice has not been taken lightly.

“Unfortunately, difficulties experienced in recruiting dentists to the area has prevented the practice from operating sustainably.

“Please be assured that if you are currently undergoing a course of dental treatment, this will be completed at the practice by September 30.

“We are sorry that we have had to take this decision and we thank you for your support to the practice during your time as a patient with us.”

Accompanying the letter is an information sheet from NHS England.

It states: “We appreciate that the loss of Castlegate dental practice will be of some concern to you. However, please be assured that we are actively working on plans to go out to formal procurement to replace the lost capacity as quickly as possible.”

NHS England goes on to say that patients can contact any NHS dental practice to seek care – a list is available at www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-dentist –and they are advised to call another one local to them if they have an urgent dental problem, even if the information for the practice currently says it is not taking on any new patients.

If no urgent access slots are available locally, call NHS 111 to speak to a health advisor and they will make arrangements if the dental need is deemed to be clinically urgent.