Parents' child dental bill concerns as practice drops NHS treatment
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Parents are facing the dilemma of paying up to £200 a year for their child's dental treatment as a village practice ends its NHS provision because of "bureaucracy".
Mulbarton Dental Surgery will not renew its NHS contract this year, meaning from October all adult and child patients registered there must pay.
The practice will bring in two children's plans costing £100 or £200 a year which has concerned families in the village, who say they are struggling to find other NHS dentists.
Graham Penfold, practice manager advisor, said around six to eight percent of its activity are NHS patients but tough targets and bureaucracy had led to the decision.
Mr Penfold said: "We have tried to keep the children's plan as fair and as low as possible.
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"This is not a problem of the practice's making, it's a problem of the NHS's making. Parents should contact the local health authority about NHS care for my child and ask what can you do to get that."
NHS appointments booked after September 30 at the practice will be cancelled but children who have commenced NHS treatment will be unaffected.
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Lynsey Kaszczak, said many families were anxious about finding the extra money and long waiting lists.
The mum-of-two who has been with the practice for 15 years said: "Even if we decided to not do it, I have trawled online and there are no dentists that I can see in Norfolk.
"We're back in Victorian England, the poor just get put to one side, it's a basic right to get checked twice a year.
"I didn't appreciate how bad the situation was until I have had to find a dentist. To think there are no dentists available in Norfolk. That is shocking to me."
An NHS England spokesman for the region said families are still able to access care at any NHS dentist with appointments available, of which there are 116 contract holders in Norfolk and Waveney.
Commissioners are currently in the process of creating new services for adults and children across Norfolk and Suffolk for routine and urgent appointments.
The spokesman said: "We are committed to ensuring everyone can access high quality dental care, and we are working closely with dental providers in Norfolk to improve access to services."
Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, said it was "indicative of a dental system in crisis" as targets were forcing many practices to drop NHS commitments.
He said: "This change inevitably impacts access to treatment for the less affluent and most vulnerable in society, risking exacerbating inequality of long-term oral health among opposing sections of Norfolk’s population."