EYEMOUTH Dental Practice is about to take on new NHS patients, after going private in 2004.
The practice is holding an open afternoon next Friday, July 6, from 1.30pm-5pm to establish the level of demand in the area.
“We are trying to give people a choice in the current economic climate,” explained practice owner Charlie Evans, who joined the practice in 2007.
Eyemouth Dental Practice currently has two dentists and treats private and dental plan patients as well as treating children on the NHS. In August they will be joined by a third, who as a newly qualified dentist needs to do NHS dentistry.
There will be a limited number of spaces available from this autumn for new patients, and subject to demand they may create a waiting list. The practice has already consulted with existing patients and is now opening up the opportunity to become an NHS patient with the practice to the wider community.
When Eyemouth Dental Practice went private in 2004, Ken Forrest, principal dentist, said that withdrawing from the NHS was the only way to ensure the long-term future of dentistry in the town.
He said: “NHS funding has reduced in real terms for the past ten years and we cannot improve or even maintain the same standards with fewer resources. Additionally, the government has signalled a major change in the delivery of NHS dentistry from April 2005 with no new funding.”
New practice owner Mr Evans has been keen to see NHS treatment return to the practice for some time. He said: “In recent times we have been wanting to provide patients with a choice of the type of dental care they receive, and the arrival of a new dentist at the practice will enable us to do this. We want to try and cater for everybody.”
Commenting on the new development a spokesperson for NHS Borders said: “We are delighted that there will be additional NHS capacity in the area.”
When the new dental care centre in Coldstream opened in 2009 there was concern in the Eyemouth area that the four day dental service in Eyemouth would not continue, particularly as new regulations also meant that the premises at Eyemouth High School and Berwickshire High School were unlikely to meet requirements.
However, their worst fears were not realised and for the past three years an outreach unit with two dentists has continued at the old Eyemouth High School four days a week - Tuesday to Friday.
NHS dental provision in the Borders has long concerned Berwickshire MSP John Lamont, and he described this latest development as “encouraging news”.
“Statistics recently released showed that we in the Borders are way behind the Scottish average when it comes to being registered with an NHS dentist, with only 66% of the population having been able to do so.
“This clearly is unacceptable and if we are to improve the access to NHS dental care in the Borders more must be done to increase the availability of NHS dentists. NHS Borders have made significant improvements already with the new dental facility at Coldstream. This open day should act as a great opportunity to let people know that they can register as NHS patients in Eyemouth. I would encourage as many local residents as possible to stop by and take advantage of this event.”
Contact the practice on 018907 50519; email firstname.lastname@example.org