Attempts to bring back dental services to two Northumberland villages are gathering pace, with the aim of having provision in place by June next year.
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.
Following the closures, a consultation exercise was undertaken with patients to try to help shape a way forward, resulting in almost 800 responses from people living in the local areas.
And now, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.
Updating the situation, Pauline Fletcher, primary care commissioning manager (dental) for NHS England Cumbria and the North East, said: “NHS England (Cumbria and the North East) has commenced a procurement process to secure a new dental contract to serve the population of Rothbury, Hadston and Amble.
“Subject to a successful outcome, we hope to have a new service up and running by June 1, 2019.”
It is understood that NHS England (Cumbria and the North East) is looking to secure a Personal Dental Services contract with a contract length of seven years, with the option to extend for three years.
The contract is offered as a split site with one practice in Rothbury and one in Hadston/Amble. NHS England is looking to extend the catchment area into Amble, following patient engagement and its own analysis.
The news has been welcomed by Coun Scott Dickinson and Coun Steven Bridgett, who represent Druridge Bay and Rothbury respectively.