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Bury St Edmunds mother struggling to find an NHS dentist for her daughters

A Bury St Edmunds mother says she has given up hope after spending hours phoning around trying to find an NHS dentist for her two daughters.

The mother, who does not wish to be named, has been left without NHS dental provision for her teenagers after Guildhall Dental said it was leaving the NHS from December 31.

In a letter, the surgery informed her any NHS dental appointments for children after that date had been cancelled and she was advised to find an alternative dentist or pay for private treatment for her daughters. Orthodontist treatment already under way would be honoured.

The new Guildhall Dental Surgery, taken from St Andrews Street South, Bury.. (43680898)
The new Guildhall Dental Surgery, taken from St Andrews Street South, Bury.. (43680898)

The mum criticised the timing of the announcement, as she only received her letter from Guildhall Dental about the decision on Friday.

By Monday lunchtime she said she had called more than 70 dental surgeries from as far afield as King’s Lynn and the outskirts of London in an attempt to find an NHS dentist for her daughters, with no success.

“Some said I would be very lucky to find anywhere to take them on, another said it had a four-year waiting list and others said they didn’t even have waiting lists as they have to turn so many people away there would be no point,” she said.

“I have been at the point of crying about it. I know Covid hasn’t helped anything, you understand that, but why would you as a practice then toss all the young patients off your list during a pandemic? It is appalling.”

The mum, who has been a patient with the surgery for 45 years, said she effectively felt ‘blackmailed’ to pay for her daughters’ treatment.

“As it stands at the moment, having made about 70 unsuccessful calls to dentists this morning alone, I am going to somehow have to find the money for them to have a check-up when they are due,” she said. “You are being put between a rock and a hard place. You either don’t have a check up or you pay for private treatment.”

A spokeswoman for Guildhall Dental, in St Andrew’s Street South, said: "Guildhall Dental will continue to treat children on a private basis and all children under five will be seen free of charge.

"The practice continues to provide NHS orthodontic services for children who are already in treatment and for new cases where the NHS criteria has been met."

A spokesperson for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the East of England, said: “We are committed to ensuring children in Suffolk can access high quality dental care and we are working closely with dental providers in the area to improve access to services.

“Although we are working hard to ensure routine dental services can be restored safely, dentists are currently prioritising those patients with the most urgent needs and those with outstanding treatments.

“Anyone who needs urgent or emergency dental care should use the NHS 111 service for advice on where to go.”

Anyone who needs help to find dental services can go to www.nhs.uk or use the NHS 111 service.

- Have you or children struggled to access NHS dental care? Tell us your experiencesat news@buryfreepress.co.uk

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