Grange dental practice goes private as dentist describes South Cumbria as ‘dental desert’

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A dental practice in Grange is switching to private services, leaving residents without an NHS surgery.

Dentist and owner of Avondale Dental, John Carney, confirmed that the practice would be stopping NHS services at the end of March 2023. Mr Carney described South Cumbria as a “dental desert” and explained that it has become impossible to run an NHS practice. He highlighted several issues, including a lack of funding and recruitment difficulties, and accused successive governments of neglecting NHS dentistry.

The practice currently provides care for around 5,800 patients who will be advised to look for an alternative provider if they don’t wish to remain on the list as private patients.

Mr Carney said that he has taken months to make the difficult decision and suggested that many other dentists are in the same predicament. Dentists understand that patients need access to NHS dentistry, but the current contract and conditions mean that they cannot provide the level of care required, he added. Over the last 13 years, funding has dropped and “there’s been a massive lack of vision by the NHS.”

Local MP, Tim Farron, recently raised the issue of NHS dental access in the House of Commons, using the impending cessation of NHS services at Avondale Dental as an example of the difficulties facing dentists and patients.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said that the government is “working to improve access to NHS dental care, backed by more than £3 billion per year.” The government recently introduced new measures to enhance the NHS contract, which mean that dentists will receive more money for complex cases and dental therapists and hygienists will be able to take on a wider range of roles.

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