NHS Dentistry At A Crossroads In Kent

March 29th, 2011
NHS Dentistry At A Crossroads In Kent

While new NHS dental practices have been set up in a number of areas of Britain over the last few months, the same cannot be said for Kent; more specifically, the Tunbridge Wells area.

It seems that not one of the dentist surgeries in the town is taking on new NHS patients, nor putting people on a waiting list.

A local newspaper – The Courier – contacted all surgeries listed in the areas of Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Paddock Wood and The Weald to book an appointment. The newspaper reporter was told no appointment was possible at the present time. A staff member at one dentist practice said: “I don’t know of any in Tunbridge Wells which are taking on NHS patients, it’s hard.

“Quite often you find even the ones that start out doing NHS work turn private within 18 months.”

Another surgery told the reporter there was a two week wait for anyone wanting NHS treatment.

When asked about the situation, the West Kent NHS Primary Care Trust spokesperson Stephen Ingram said: “We anticipate this will enable 40,000 more people to see an NHS dentist regularly.”

He added: “Because of the funding allocated to NHS West Kent for NHS dentistry, it will be a challenge to deliver the 54 per cent target.

“This is because NHS West Kent has the 12th-lowest financial allocation per patient out of 151 PCTs in England.

“If NHS West Kent received funding closer to the national average, it would have approximately £5 million extra to spend on NHS dentistry.”

However he also pointed out that the situation is steadily improving. He said: “NHS West Kent is confident that our dental contracts across West Kent are running at optimum efficiency to provide the best possible dental care, while staying within the budget allocation from the Department of Health, as is required.”

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