Dentist may not get NHS work contract

A private dental practice seeking to offer NHS work may be barred from providing state treatment despite concerns that people cannot afford professional care because of the costs.

A private dental practice seeking to offer NHS work may be barred from providing state treatment despite concerns that people cannot afford professional care because of the costs.

The Norwich Street Dental Practice in Dereham has approached Norfolk's Primary Care Trust in a bid to get a contract which would allow its four practising dentists to treat NHS patients along with its already registered private clients.

But despite yesterday's revelations that nearly six pc of people in the region resort to DIY dental work because they do not have access to a state dentist, the EDP understands that health bosses may refuse to allocate an NHS contract.

The surgery is one of two practices in town which decided to switch from NHS dentistry to private care earlier this year.

However, following inquiries from patients who could not afford to pay private fees but were reluctant to leave the practice, the practice decided to re-apply for a smaller NHS contract.

“We have had a lot of people asking whether we could offer state treatment, along with the private care that we are already providing,” said Mario Gomez, who runs the practice together with his wife, Alina. “We approached the trust a few weeks ago asking whether they were interested to allocate a new contract to a practice in Dereham. We are expecting an official response this week.”

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But a spokesman for the PCT said the capacity that had been released after the two practices pulled the plug on state dentistry had already been re-allocated.

“Where subsequent gaps in NHS dental provision had been identified within Norfolk PCT's area - due to dentists opting out of NHS work - a large proportion of that capacity had been reallocated to other practices.”

The PCT insists that demand for state-run dentistry is currently met by Beech House Dental Practice - the only NHS surgery in town which has 10,000 patients on its books.

However, the EDP has been contacted by an NHS patient in Dereham who raised concerns about the surgery's possibility to cope with the increasing demand.

But Claire Richeda, manager at the surgery conceded that occasionally there “may be some problems,” but insisted that the business was coping well with the demand.

“There are always circumstances where problems can occur,” she said. “But then there are problems in any business. However, we are coping well with the number of patients and our eight dentists are looking after each patient.

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