A dentist at a Grantham practice has announced he will stop seeing NHS patients from January.
In a letter to patients, Dr Hamza Haseeb, of Appoline Dental Care in Dysart Road, said he “will no longer be seeing patients under the NHS”.
The letter stated: “A chronic lack of investment in NHS dentistry by successive governments coupled with rapidly rising costs means I no longer feel that I can provide the level of dental care you have come to expect.
“Like many NHS practices across the UK, we are having to make crucial decisions to ensure our practice survives and is here to provide your dental care in the long term.
“We have tried and failed to recruit more NHS dentists as our region has one of the lowest ratios of dentist to patients in the country.
“As such I have made the decision to move away from the NHS and will no longer be seeing patients under the NHS from January 31, 2023. Instead, I will be here to provide your dental care on a private basis.”
The letter was signed ‘The Team at Appoline Dental Care’ but the Journal understands only Dr Haseeb is to stop seeing NHS patients at this time.
One patient disappointed to be losing her NHS place at Appoline is Amanda Hodgkin, who has been receiving her dental care there for over 30 years, including when the practice was based in Avenue Road and run by dentist Anthony Smith.
Both Amanda, 62, and her husband Barry, 62, who live in Riverside in Grantham, have attended the same practice for decades with Barry going there for more than 40 years.
Amanda said she feels “really let down by the practice”.
She added: “I don’t think they should treat their NHS patients like this and tell them to go private. I think to treat us like that with the cost of living going up and both of us only working part-time.
“We cannot be without a dentist.”
Appoline has introduced a patient membership plan where patients pay monthly for dental care, quoted on the letter as £20.83 per month.
Amanda queried if the payment plan was the only option available, and says she was told it was.
She added: “We scrambled around, making loads of phone calls as far as Leicester, Corby, Newark, Nottinghamshire, just to try and find a NHS dentist, but no one is taking NHS patients.”
The couple have now signed up with an alternative Grantham dental practice which they say offered them a cheaper payment plan.
The Journal asked Appoline Dental Care to confirm how many patients are affected by Dr Haseeb’s decision to move away from the NHS and whether this is a move other dentists at the practice are considering.
The practice refused to comment.
According to NHS England, none of the dental practices in Grantham are taking on new NHS patients, while none within a 20-mile radius of the town have confirmed there are spaces available.
Association of Dental Groups data shows that in 2021 more than 2,000 dentists quit the NHS, increasing an existing national shortage, leaving a further four million people without access to NHS care.
In South Kesteven, the ratio of dentists per 1,000 people is 0.091, which is below the average for all local authorities within the East Midlands at 0.116, according to Local Government Association (LGA) data.
The LGA has called upon the government to address the shortages in NHS dentists for people across the country.
This is especially in rural and more deprived areas as they are more likely to experience these shortages compared to their counterparts.