Thousands of patients in Ramsgate are left without NHS dentist
PEOPLE in Ramsgate are having to go as far as Herne Bay for a dentist after a merger between two dental companies left 3,000 residents without an NHS dentist.
Last Friday the Ramsgate Dental Practice (RDP) sent a letter its patients explaining that, due to a merger between Integrated Dental Holdings (IDH) and Associated Dental Practices (ADP) which owns the surgery, patients could no longer expect NHS treatment there.
This was a result of the surgery having to give up its NHS contract as the Office of Fair Trading had ruled that the newly conglomerated IDH had too much of the local market share.
Linda Archer, who has been registered at the surgery for five years, says currently the closest NHS dentist available to her is in Herne Bay.
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She said: "I am not very happy, it took me two years to get a dentist as close as this. I can't go private, it's too expensive. I don't know what to do really.
"When I got the letter I was absolutely gobsmacked. I only had a filling two weeks ago. It's not just me either. I have three other people in my family registered there."
The letter said: "Sadly this review has resulted in NHS funding being withdrawn from RDP. RDP does not want to lose any of our loyal patients and we therefore will be continuing to offer our services on a different basis."
Tom Keohane, who lives in Ramsgate, said: "Ramsgate fought hard to secure this NHS practice six years ago and have enjoyed a splendid service from it. What next, medical charges on the horizon?"
ADP also runs a dental surgery in Sandwich.
It has about 3,000 patients who could face finding a new dentist when its NHS contract is withdrawn.
Paula Smith, head of dental for NHS Kent and Medway, said: "IDH gave three months' notice to NHS Kent and on its contracts in Ramsgate and Sandwich on May 31, which means it will provide care to NHS patients until August 31.
"These contracts can be re-tendered by the PCT which is in the process of sourcing new providers to take over – this however will take longer than August 31.
"Therefore, to minimise disruption to patients, we will put temporary contracts in place while the permanent re-tender is finalised. IDH is obliged to continue seeing all NHS-registered patients until August 31."
After August 31 patients have the choice to register privately with ADP or look for another NHS dentist.
Patients seeking a dentist can call the NHS Dental Helpdesk on 0808 238 9797.