Dentistry in the Norwich area has been dealt a fresh blow after yet another practice has announced plans to go private.

Taverham Dental Health Clinic will cease all NHS treatment for both adults and children from January 1, 2024. 

Norwich Evening News: Taverham Dental Health Clinic, in Fakenham RoadTaverham Dental Health Clinic, in Fakenham Road (Image: Google Maps)

A letter sent to all patients of the practice claimed "rising costs" caused by a "chronic lack of investment in NHS dentistry by successive governments" has left the surgery unable to "provide the level of dental care you have come to expect and remain a viable business".

All NHS check-up appointments after November 30 have been cancelled. 

Instead, adult patients have been offered membership plans ranging from £14 to £42 a month and under-18s at £8.50 a month, with joining fees of £9.50.

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Stuart Clancy, Conservative county councillor for Taverham, described the news as a "major blow" for the area. 

Norwich Evening News: Stuart ClancyStuart Clancy (Image: Norfolk County Council)

"A disproportionate number of clinics in Norfolk have been affected by the privatisation of healthcare," he said.

"I don't think the NHS contract is good enough.

"And unfortunately there is no short-term fix. 

"I am seeking a meeting with the clinic and Integrated Care Board to understand the situation further.

Norwich Evening News: Dentistry in Norfolk has previously been described as being in disrepairDentistry in Norfolk has previously been described as being in disrepair (Image: Newsquest)

"In the medium term, a new dental school at the University of East Anglia will help and I am also pushing for more dental provision in Taverham. 

"But I am fully aware this does not help people with toothache right now."

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Mark Jones, a campaigner with the Toothless in Norfolk action group, described the news as "outrageous", adding his family had been patients with the surgery.

He said: "Families are left to 'go private' and pay outrageous fees that they cannot afford, turn to do-it-yourself dentistry at home, or live in fear that their family's oral health will deteriorate to the point where they must be admitted to the hospital.

Norwich Evening News: Mark Jones of Toothless in NorfolkMark Jones of Toothless in Norfolk (Image: Toothless in Norfolk)

"The dental crisis in Norfolk is not going away anytime soon, no matter how many new dental training school announcements or NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB statements are made.

"Immediate action is required, including significant financial support and a comprehensive revision of the contracts."

Taverham Dental Health Clinic declined to comment further.

Labour's plan to "rescue" NHS dentistry

Labour MP for Norwich South, Clive Lewis, has previously described Norfolk as a "dental desert"

Earlier this month, his party's leader Keir Starmer revealed a series of pre-election policies that would "rescue dentistry from the immediate crisis".

Norwich Evening News: Labour leader Keir StarmerLabour leader Keir Starmer (Image: PA)

This would include providing 700,000 urgent dental appointments and reforming the NHS dental contract, offering incentives for new dentists to work in areas "with the greatest need", introducing supervised toothbrushing in schools for three to five-year-olds and "shifting the focus to prevention".

The Tory government has launched a consultation on how delays could be improved, including a proposal to grant dental hygienists the power to administer medicines without the need for a prescription.

However, its NHS dental recovery plan, a policy announced in April which aims to improve access and increase the number of NHS dentists, has not yet been published.

Norwich Evening News: Prime Minister Rishi SunakPrime Minister Rishi Sunak (Image: PA)

Speaking on this, Toothless in Norfolk's Mark Jones said: "Patients in Norfolk are finding it impossible to access a dentist on the NHS.

"The government had promised back in April to present a recovery strategy for NHS dentistry.

"All well and good, but where is it?"

"Action is needed. Otherwise, NHS dentistry will be permanently lost."