High Street dental practices are independent businesses, who may or may not hold a contract with the NHS. We’ve checked with NHS England who’ve confirmed that Ferring Dental Practice has the right and ability to stop providing NHS dental treatment and that they can set their private fees.
Rather than funding cuts by the NHS (unless a practice wishes to reduce the amount of NHS work they wish to carry out) but as with most businesses, dental practices are facing financial challenges because of the Pandemic.
The Chief Dental Officer has asked dentists to prioritise people who have the most pressing dental needs, regardless of whether they are an NHS or private patient. This means that routine check-ups for many people can’t take place. There remain restrictions on the type of treatment because of the need to reduce the spray/spread of airborne particles.
If you’ve an urgent dental issue, please contact a dentist - as you should be offered a telephone assessment and advice, regardless of whether you’re known to the practice.
If you then need treatment, this should be offered on the NHS if the practice has the capacity within their contract to do so. If the practice doesn’t have the capacity to provide a face-to-face appointment under the NHS then a practice can offer to provide treatment privately. We would recommend you check carefully how much this will cost, or alternatively you can try to find another practice who is able to provide NHS treatment. If you are struggling to get urgent treatment you can call 111 for advice and support.
NHS England and NHS Improvement have said they’re prioritising Worthing as an area for further NHS dental contracting and are currently looking at possible providers. We’ll be following this up towards the end of the year so we can update residents on the progress.
Healthwatch West Sussex has raised concern nationally about dentistry and we’re keen to hear from anyone who is struggling to get urgent dental treatment or been asked to pay what they believe are unreasonable costs.
The Parliamentary Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee published their enquiry findings and recommendations, one of which relates to dentistry:
We further conclude that the delivery of dental services in England has been significantly hindered by the pandemic. This has been largely due to the need to protect both patients and staff from COVID-19 which has, in turn, presented financial challenges to both NHS and private dental practices.
We welcome NHSE/ I’s continued efforts to support the restoration of dentistry services in England... We are concerned that there does not appear to be a plan for the restoration of dental services in England.
We recommend that Sara Hurley (Chief Dental Officer for England) sets out her assessment of the challenges facing dentistry services in England, and clarifies what steps will be taken to ensure dentistry services are able to continue to be restored to meet patient demand in the safest possible way whilst also remaining financially sustainable.