Patients’ fears over the loss of Johnson Community Hospital’s NHS dental service were allayed on Wednesday with news that a “caretaker” service launches on September 1.
Spalding Guardian readers were shocked to discover this week that 1A Dental will close on August 31, with one telling us: “No letters have been sent out as of July 18.”
The reader said: “That hospital cost a lot to build and now it won’t even offer dental surgery in its purpose built facilities? Why can’t a new practice take over and run services within the hospital?”
NHS England, which commissions the service, told us a caretaker service is being commissioned and its services “will be fully operational from mid-September”.
Health bosses say if patients need urgent services during the contract handover period, they can call NHS 111 (freephone) and a trained adviser will direct them to the nearest available service.
1A Dental Practice says it is pulling out because “ongoing running costs” have prevented the practice from running sustainably.
An NHS England spokesman said: “We can confirm that the 1A Dental practice contract delivered from Johnson Community Hospital in Spalding will expire on Thursday, 31 August 2017.
Di Pegg, head of primary care for NHS England, said: “We would like to reassure patients and the public that we are commissioning a caretaker provider to enable NHS dental services to be maintained and delivered from the same practice premises. The practice staff will be given the opportunity to transfer to the new caretaking provider.
“It is intended the new service will commence on Friday 1 September 2017 and the practice will be fully operational from mid-September 2017.
“During early September 2017, the practice will provide telephone advice, triage and signpost patients to urgent dental services if required. Patient appointments for dental care assessments and treatments will be offered once the practice is fully operational.
“We will communicate the details of the new dental caretaker provider to patients in late August 2017.”
We recently revealed NHS England has commissioned a new NHS dental practice for Spalding, which will open in December and be run by Rodericks Dental Ltd.
It will open 8am-8pm seven days a week.
NHS England said the location of the Spalding House Dental Practice was still being finalised and it was being contracted to serve Spalding for seven years.
A spokesperson for 1A Dental said: “Our contract with the NHS expires on 31 August. The practice closure has not been taken lightly. It is a result of ongoing running costs which have prevented the practice from operating sustainably.
“Regretfully, we can no longer provide services at this practice.”
The spokesman said patients registered at 1A Dental at Johnson Community Hospital who have an open course of treatment will have their treatment completed before 31 August – and patients who have a private treatment or hygiene plan will be contacted separately to discuss their options.
• If patients wish to seek an alternative NHS dental practice they can search on line via the NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk), and assistance is also available from Lincolnshire Healthwatch on 01205 820892 or firstname.lastname@example.org and the Patient Advice and Liaison service on 0845 602 4384.