Patients are being made to go private if they want to continue making appointments with their dentists.
A swathe of people in Bicester have taken to Facebook to air their concerns after being sent letters from their respective NHS dentist practices telling them they can no longer be treated unless they go private.
Pam Sylvester, who lives in Bicester, posted on Facebook yesterday: “We are currently registered as NHS patients at a Bicester dentist and have just received letters saying they will no longer be treating us unless we go private.
“Even the young kids will have to pay. Is this a new thing?
“I understand them not taking on any new NHS patients but to force us to go private is absurd when we can’t go anywhere else – no one is taking on new NHS patients.”
Another commenter, Jenna Evans, replied: “I feel your pain, I’ve just received the same letter.”
A third person, Sue Giles, commented: “I was told the same at Bicester Dental Practice. Can only be treated as a private patient.
“I managed to get in at Summertown dental practice.”
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Leanne Clare Hilton wrote: “I got the same letter from Market Square Dental on Saturday, and so did my five-year-old.”
Sheetal Kharbanda, a dentist who spent 16 years in the NHS, opened a private practice – Heyford Smiles – in Heyford Park, Bicester, in March 2021.
Mr Kharbanda said: “I opened Heyford Smiles because I knew there were a lot of children and young families in the Heyford area.
“I got in touch with the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to ask for an NHS funding contract.
“I was very quickly told there was no funding at all – I also know from speaking with other dentists that there’s less and less money in our profession.
“We’re being asked to do the same work for less money.
“With an NHS contract the dentist practice will be given a certain amount of money and expected to do a certain amount of work throughout the year to keep that funding coming.
“The dentists get ‘points’ for doing each procedure – dentures, crowns, fillings.
“To do one filling the dentist may get 3 points, and the patient will pay around £65. But the points given are the same for one filling as they are for 12.
“That means in order to achieve the set targets dentists have to do their procedures very quickly – otherwise they will lose their funding.
“It’s not a greedy dentist thing, it’s the system that doesn’t work.
“The problem we have is that a portion of the population cannot afford private dentistry, so there are people being let down who need care.”
This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.
Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.
Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1
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