Dentistry in Norwich has been described as being in "disrepair" as yet ANOTHER of the city's practitioners goes private.

A surgeon at MyDentist in Barrack Street has announced they will no longer be offering NHS treatment - and will instead be "moving to an independent model".

In a letter to patients, the dentist explained "some changes need to be made" to ensure they can "continue to offer the highest level of care".

Norwich Evening News: MyDentist in Barrack Street has dropped NHS patientsMyDentist in Barrack Street has dropped NHS patients (Image: Google Maps)

From October 1, they will be withdrawing from NHS dental services. 

Dr Eleftheria Lokovitou, who penned the note to patients, said the decision "has been a difficult one" but that it "will allow me to spend time with my patients, maintaining and improving their dental health, whilst also reducing appointment waiting times".

The letter offers patients three payment plans for a monthly fee, ranging from £8.33 for one examination and one hygienist appointment a year, to £25.75 for more extensive cover.

However, patients have been told NHS care is still available with other dentists at the surgery.

A spokesman for MyDentist said: "We would like to reassure patients that our practice on Barrack Street in Norwich is not withdrawing NHS dental services. 

“NHS dentistry is facing unprecedented pressures and, over the last few years, many clinicians across the country have made the difficult decision to move away from providing NHS treatments.

"Two of our self-employed dentists at our practice in Norwich have found themselves in the same position. NHS treatment will still be available with other dentists at this practice, and we are doing everything possible to recruit more NHS dentists.”

The news comes as experts warn of Norfolk becoming a 'dental desert' - with the county having one NHS dentist for every 2,600 people.

Norwich Evening News: Experts have warned Norwich is fast becoming a 'dental desert'Experts have warned Norwich is fast becoming a 'dental desert' (Image: Joe Lord)

Toothless in Norfolk, which is part of a national campaign group to improve NHS dental services, warned the nation's oral health could soon reach "tipping point".

"Dental practises around the country are returning NHS contracts in droves," a spokesman said.

"The main problem is that the dental contract is both financially unviable and unfit for purpose.

"For decades, administrations have chosen to ignore the issue, and as a result, patients have paid a high price for Westminster's inaction.

Norwich Evening News: Toothless in England founder Mark JonesToothless in England founder Mark Jones (Image: Toothless in Norfolk)

"75 years after its inception, NHS dentistry is in such disrepair that it is nearing the end-of-life cycle. However, Westminster can once again prioritise the nation's oral health and prevent it from reaching a tipping point."

The crisis has even seen pubs in Norwich start donating toothbrushes to local children.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis bemoaned the lack of NHS spaces in dental practices after hearing about the work of NR2 pub The Garden House recently.

"I've tried so many times to get the government and its gatekeepers like NHS England to step in and put us out of this dental misery," he said.

"Still, they either won't face up to the reality of what's happening or make jam-tomorrow promises that never come to pass."

Norwich Evening News: Norwich South MP Clive LewisNorwich South MP Clive Lewis (Image: Newsquest)

Norfolk MPs Duncan Baker and Jerome Mayhew have also been campaigning for a new dentistry school at the University of East Anglia - though government ministers have so far refused to back the scheme.

In 2021, army veteran David Spoors, who works in Norwich, pulled out 18 of his own teeth after receding gums left him in terrible pain but he couldn't get treatment.

That frustration remains in place, with the NHS website showing the vast majority of dentists in the area either not accepting NHS patients or only taking NHS patients referred by another dentist.

Norwich Evening News: North Norfolk MP Duncan BakerNorth Norfolk MP Duncan Baker (Image: Newsquest)

"There has been some extra capacity created in Norfolk this year but that is filled up in days with patients," said Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk.

"We submitted evidence to the government’s Health and Social Care Select Committee earlier this year which showed it is very difficult to access treatment if you are not already a patient with a practice.

Norwich Evening News: Healthwatch Suffolk chief executive Alex StewartHealthwatch Suffolk chief executive Alex Stewart (Image: Healthwatch Norfolk)

"We submitted a list of recommendations including a fresh look nationally at dental contracts, more effort made to attract dentists to Norfolk to help increase the amount of NHS care, practices ensuring they have correct up-to-date information on their websites about the care they can offer, and more projects like Happy Smiles which teach young people in Norfolk about oral health.

"Responsibility for dental services is now being transferred across to a local level and we will be keen to hear from NHS Norfolk and Waveney bosses about their action plan to try and deal with the problem."