A dental practice has written to patients saying there will be no further NHS treatment due to a shortage of dentists.
Bupa Dental Care in Folkestone says the decision to suspend this type of treatment is the result of a national recruitment crisis, which saw around 2,000 practitioners leave the NHS last year.
The practice, located in Shorncliffe Road, says it is “doing everything we can” to recruit more dentists.
His letter to patients, seen by KentOnline, practice director Robert Sanders says: “I am writing to inform you that at this time we can no longer see NHS patients.
“I would like to assure you that we are doing all we can to get more dentists into the practice, but there is a national shortage which makes it difficult to find dentists to provide NHS care.
“We understand how difficult it is to get an appointment with the NHS dentist in Folkestone, and we are sorry that we cannot offer more appointments at this time.”
Affected patients are advised to find an NHS dentist elsewhere, be considered a private patient or stay on the books as an NHS patient and hope that staff will be brought in to allow treatment to resume.
A frustrated patient, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘Last time I went they told me they employed two part time NHS dentists so you wonder what happened to them in six months.
“I’ve been going there for decades – I’m devastated. I also feel a bit disappointed as I was reassured that they were hiring new staff when my old dentist left.
“I thought I had to go for a medical, but I don’t want to have to pay to go private.
“I’m a pensioner with no income to pay for it, and having paid into the NHS I think everyone should have the right to access an NHS dentist nearby.”
In August, KentOnline revealed that NHS dentistry is at a tipping point, with millions of patients unable to get the care they need – from routine checkups to major surgery.
Some residents said they had to wait more than two years for a routine appointment.
A report by the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) earlier this year identified Kent as one of the worst ‘dental deserts’ in the country, with the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group providing just 45 NHS dentists per 100 000 inhabitants – one of the lowest figures. at national scale.
The ADG report warns that the emergence of so-called ‘dental deserts’ will have a wider impact on health outcomes, as routine dental checkups are a vital first line of defense against oral cancers and type 2 diabetes.