Campaigners hail end to ‘dentistry desert’

A DENTAL practice in St Paul’s offering both NHS and private services looks set to open in the new year.
The area had been left without any dentists after BUPA shut its 7,000-patient surgery in Ashley Road in June.
Following a local campaign by the Dental Action Group, BUPA agreed to continue maintaining the surgery equipment for a year in the hope that another provider could be found to take on the tenancy of the building, which is owned by Sovereign Housing Association.

Now the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire NHS Integrated Care Board, has announced that a potential new dentist has been found.

A spokesperson said: “We’re pleased to have made a decision to award the contract to provide dental services in St Paul’s, to SGA services Ltd. We’d like to thank members of the Dental Action Group and local community for their continued support throughout this process.”

SGS Services Ltd provides dental practice management services across the UK, including Twindent Dental Care in Southmead and Thornbury High Street Dental. The contract is likely to be agreed after December 9.

The news has been welcomed by campaigners, including Ashley ward councillor Amirah Cole, who has worked with residents since it emerged that the practice was one of 85 across the country being shut by BUPA, who cited recruitment difficulties.

West of England Mayor Dan Norris is urging ministers to reform the NHS dental contract. He said: “The severe dentist shortage is a terrible situation for local people waiting in pain, bad for our already stretched hospitals and has knock-on effects across our economy as people take days off sick. Time and again people tell me they just can’t get an NHS dentist. It’s simply impossible. Ministers must urgently fix this crisis.”