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Patients shocked after NHS dental treatment withdrawn at The Thatch Dental Practice in Mildenhall

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Patients have been left shocked after receiving a surprise message telling them they could no longer receive NHS treatment at their dental practice.

The patients, who go to The Thatch Dental Practice, on King Street, Mildenhall, received an email last Friday containing 'important information regarding your dental care'.

It said that NHS treatment could no longer be offered as it no longer held a 'temporary NHS contract that was provided to the practice due to the closures of several other practices in the area.'

The Thatch Dental Practice in Mildenhall. Image: Google Maps
The Thatch Dental Practice in Mildenhall. Image: Google Maps

It went onto to explain how patients could continue care under different schemes including Denplan and private care at 'competitive prices' with discounted fees for children.

However, in another email four days later, seen by Suffolk News, the practice informed patients that NHS treatment was still available for people exempt from paying and children.

Practice manager, Sammi Coidan, wrote: "I have been in close correspondence with the business owners and happy to be able to say that we can continue to offer NHS dental care to children and patients who are exempt from NHS dental fees.

"The news came at quite a shock last week and has caused great distress for our patients as well as our team."

"I have discussed this with the business owners in regards to the outcome of the NHS contract being revoked, and that we need to do our best to continue as much as possible for as many as possible.

"For our patients who do not fall under the exemption rule for NHS Dentistry it is still a shame that I have been asked to confirm that treatment can be provided either via Denplan or Private."

One patient, who lives in Mildenhall, said he and others were shocked to receive the emails as they were not aware the practice held a temporary contract and some patients had been 'using NHS services there for 20 years'.

"It was a complete shock. We now don't know where to go or what to do as it is so hard to get NHS treatment anywhere," he said.

"We would at least like some explanation as to what has happened."

Suffolk News has contact the practice for comment but not received a reply.

A spokesman for NHS England said: "Dental practices are independent providers who hold a contract to provide NHS dental services.

"Dental providers manage their own practice including capacity and additionally determine whether they are able to accept additional/new patients and therefore their lists can open and close on a frequent basis.

“NHS dental patient registration ceased in 2006 and since then practices are only responsible for the care of the patient whilst they are under a course of treatment, have another issue within two months or have an item under guarantee.

“This means patients are not guaranteed access to an NHS dental appointment at that practice in the future. Practices do not have an obligation to see the patient again after that course or treatment is completed but must have a reasonable justification for not being able to see the patient.”

The spokesman would not comment on details of why the contract was not continuing.