A PATIENT at a dental practice in Prestatyn has expressed concerns about whether he will be able to afford the additional charges that will be imposed on him from next month.
The patient, who asked not to be named, has been registered with mydentist’s Prestatyn clinic on the High Street for at least a decade but received a letter last week detailing a new payment plan.
The plan, which will come into effect at the practice from October 1, will see the practice withdraw from NHS dental services and switch to an independent model, giving patients three options:
• Option A – one dental and hygiene appointment each per year, and 10% discount on oral hygiene products (£7.75 per month).
• Option B – two dental examinations and hygiene appointments each per year, and a 10% discount on oral hygiene products (£15.45 per month).
• Option C – two dental examinations and four hygiene appointments per year, and a 10% discount on oral hygiene products (£23.95 per month).
The cabinet letter was shown to the Log; dated September 2, the patient says he received it three days later.
Excerpts from the letter read: “It has become apparent that certain changes need to be made in the way I practice, to ensure that I can continue to provide the highest level of care that my patients deserve.
“The decision to make this change was difficult, but necessary to allow me to continue to provide high quality service.
“This change will allow me to spend more time with my patients, maintain and improve their dental health, while reducing wait times for appointments.”
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The patient fears that he will not be able to pay these new fees, which he describes as a “joke”.
They also expressed concern that many more would be in the same boat, especially given the current cost of living crisis.
The patient said: “It came out of nowhere. Apparently there’s only one dentist there now, and he’s making these changes, but all he’s doing is pretending it’s a private practice.
“You pay £7.75 a month at a ‘cheap rate’ which only entitles you to one check-up per year.
‘It says on the back of the letter that if I don’t want to do this I can go to an NHS dentist, but they don’t have one and won’t take any until after Christmas.
“Especially since today there are many people who cannot afford it and therefore will lose their dental treatment.
“I spoke to them as soon as I got the letter, but they just said to call back in January.
“I can call 111 and get emergency dental care if I need it, but that’s not the point. I just think it’s a joke.
“I called the mydentist practices in Rhyl and Llandudno and they only have one dentist each as well. They have no staff.
“I’m not the only one; there are a lot of angry people.
The patient also criticized the practice for giving “less than a month’s notice” of the changes, and called for an NHS dentist to be added as soon as possible.
“To give me less than a month’s notice to sign the deal…and if I don’t, I don’t have a dentist, because there’s no NHS dentist there.
‘It says on the letter they give you an option but there is no option as they don’t have an NHS dentist.
“If you need non-emergency dental treatment, you won’t get it (without paying that extra fee).
“I think it’s wrong. People just don’t have £7 a month to spare right now because of the cost of living.
In response, a spokesperson for mydentist said: “NHS dentistry is facing unprecedented pressure which since the pandemic has led to more than 3,000 clinicians choosing to no longer provide NHS treatments.
“One of our independent dentists at our practice in Prestatyn has made the same difficult decision to stop providing NHS dental services.
“We are doing all we can to recruit more NHS dentists to join the team and continue to provide affordable private treatment to ensure that as many patients as possible can access the care they need.”
Vale of Clwyd MP James Davies added that the news of another dental practice in the area distancing itself from NHS services was disappointing.
He added that the move highlights a “significant underlying problem with access to NHS dentistry”.
Dr Davies said: “It is a serious disappointment to hear that another dental practice in the area, through no fault of their own, is turning away from providing NHS services.
“Unfortunately, this is representative of a significant underlying problem with access to NHS dentistry across Wales and beyond.
“Over the past year I have written to the Health Board (Betsi Cadwaladr) on behalf of many constituents who have struggled to access NHS dental care.
“In response, the health board confirmed that it plans to order additional dental services later in this financial year for areas identified as having high need and existing low levels of NHS provision.
“One of the main issues responsible for the current difficulties is the dental contract of 2006. This has the effect of deterring many dentists from carrying out NHS work.
“The HM Government is pursuing its replacement for England, and I understand that the Welsh Government is considering doing the same for Wales.
“It is important that this takes place as soon as possible and I have written to the Welsh Minister of Health to stress the urgency and request an update.”
A full list of current mydentist Prestatyn treatments and costs can be found at: www.mydentist.co.uk/dentists/practices/wales/north-wales/prestatyn/37-high-street.