CONCERNS have been raised over a lack of access to NHS dentists in Stroud after a town centre surgery turned private.
The issue was raised in a letter sent to the SNJ by reader John R Thompson from Stonehouse.
Referring to the Archway dental practice on London Road, which was recently taken over by BUPA, he wrote: “It provided high-quality dental care, from well equipped premises, under the NHS.
“In the autumn, BUPA wrote to their patients advising them that NHS services would effectively only be provided in an emergency.
“Those wanting continued NHS treatment by way of regular check-ups, etc., were advised to go elsewhere.
“We can all shrug and see this as another inevitable nail in the coffin of NHS dentistry: except that it is the poorest who will suffer most.
“A whole generation of children, brought up on Tory austerity and through the current cost-of living crisis are going to suffer throughout their lives because of decisions of this nature. But BUPA will doubtless make good profits.
“We easily despair at the state of the NHS generally, and are too readily being encouraged to accept charges in other areas of our medical care.
“The NHS is an amazing organisation – but we need to be talking about it and challenging the assumptions being promoted as facts.
“We could start by expecting the government to do more to promote NHS dental services. There are plenty of people who will go completely without dental care if we do not.”
However, a spokesperson for BUPA said that the Stroud practice does plan to offer NHS appointments if its vacancies for NHS dentists can be filled.
She said: “We understand how difficult it is to get an NHS dental appointment in South West England, and we’re sorry that we’re not able to offer NHS appointments at Bupa Dental Care Stroud at this time.
“The dental sector across the UK is experiencing a national skills shortage, which makes it extremely difficult to recruit dentists to deliver NHS care.
“The Stroud practice currently has four longstanding vacancies for NHS dentists, and despite our best efforts, finding NHS dentists for these roles is very challenging due to the workforce shortages.
“We want to reassure all our patients that we’re doing everything we can to recruit more dentists to Bupa Dental Care Stroud.
“Please be assured that we will be in contact with patients when we can offer NHS appointments.”
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