Half a million patients face losing their dentist as Bupa announces it will shut up to 85 practices – so is YOURS one of them?
- Bupa Dental Care is set to close, sell or merge 85 practices affecting 1,200 staff
- Affected staff will be redeployed where possible the company announced
- Read more: NHS will be short of 570,000 nurses, doctors and dentists in 15 years
Almost half a million Brits could lose their dentist under Bupa’s plans to close a fifth of its practices.
Eighty-five branches will either be shut, sold or merged later this year.
Bupa is one of Britain’s biggest providers of dental care, offering NHS treatments as well as private services.
It blamed the ‘difficult decision’ on ‘systemic’ challenges facing the industry and said it could not recruit enough dentists amid a nationwide shortage.
Practices affected were also struggling to cope with the extra running costs caused by inflation, bosses claimed.
Bupa Dental Care is set to close, sell or merge 85 of its dental practices in a move that will impact 1,200 staff across the UK. All the practices will remain open as usual in the meantime. Of the affected practices, 74 are in England, with the Midlands worst impacted
Bupa is one of Britain’s biggest providers of dental care, offering NHS treatments as well as private services. It blamed the ‘difficult decision’ on ‘systemic’ challenges facing the industry and said it could not recruit enough dentists amid a nationwide shortage
This chart shows the number of dentists who carried out NHS activity each year, the figure dropped sharply during the Covid pandemic but has slightly recovered to just over 24,000 according to the latest data
It comes as millions are already struggling to see their dentist, with three in ten kids now starting school with rotting teeth.
Desperate Brits have had to resort to using shoelaces and pliers to pull out their own rotting teeth.
Bupa’s decision will bring its total number of practices in the UK down to 365.
All the practices will remain open as usual in the meantime.
Of the affected practices, 74 are in England, with the Midlands worst impacted.
Practices affected include those run by Total Orthodontics, as well as ones named directly after Bupa.
How much does NHS dentistry cost?
There are 3 NHS charge bands. But NHS dental charges will increase by 8.5 per cent from April 24, the largest single jump since the current system of charges was introduced in 2006.
Band 1: £23.80
From April 24: £25.80
Covers an examination, diagnosis and advice. If necessary, it also includes X-rays, a scale and polish, and planning for further treatment.
Band 2: £65.20
From April 24: £70.70
Covers all treatment included in Band 1, plus additional treatment, such as fillings, root canal treatment and removing teeth (extractions).
Band 3: £282.80
From April 24: £306.80
Covers all treatment included in Bands 1 and 2, plus more complex procedures, such as crowns, dentures and bridges.
For comparison, check-ups can cost between £20 and £120 at private dentists, according to Which?.
Dentures and bridges can also cost up to £2,520, the consumer watchdog says.
The move will also impact more than a tenth of its 9,000-strong workforce.
The company claimed it would redeploy affected staff where possible to different areas of the business.
Thousands of NHS dentists quit during Covid, and industry polls suggest even more are considering going fully private in the near future.
But numbers have been dwindling for years due to complaints over the NHS contract model.
‘Despite significant investment by Bupa Dental Care, the business has been unable to recruit enough dentists to deliver NHS care in many practices for months, and in some cases, years,’ it said.
Mark Allan, general manager for Bupa Dental Care, said: ‘As a leading dental provider in the UK, our priority must be to enable patients to receive the care they need.
‘For the majority of affected practices, this decision will allow commissioners to procure local providers for the NHS contract, tailoring services and investment to the needs of the local community, thereby providing a better opportunity for patients to continue access to NHS dental services.’
Bupa said it would be handing back the dental contract to the NHS for practices that are set to close, meaning commissioners can find a new provider to continue treating patients in the area.
It will also provide resources to help patients find alternative local providers.
Mr Allan said: ‘We fully understand the impact today’s decision has on our patients and our people within these practices.
‘This decision has not been taken lightly and closure is a last resort.
‘Despite our continued efforts, the dental industry is facing a number of significant and systemic challenges that are placing additional pressure on providing patient care, in particular recruiting dentists to deliver NHS dental care.’
NHS dentistry has been in crisis for many years, with industry leaders saying the sector has been chronically underfunded.
Dentists argue that under the current contract, it is no longer financially viable to offer NHS procedures because of a lack of Government investment.
Earlier this week a leaked version of the NHS’s long-awaited workforce plan also warned dentists would need to see their numbers boost by 40 per cent in the next 15 years to meet the needs of England’s growing and ageing population
But earlier this month, the British Dental Association (BDA) also warned the decaying dental industry ‘is running out of road’ and called on the Government and opposition to ‘commit’ to action to reform the ‘broken’ service.
A ‘discredited’ contract system is fuelling the crisis, according to the organization.
It is now being investigated by the Health and Social Care Committee. The committee’s MPs will take evidence from health chiefs in the next few weeks.
BDA analysis of the 2022 NHS GP Survey also suggests the number of Brits struggling to see an NHS dentist is up seven million, on the four million recorded in 2019.
This accounts for almost one in four adults in England.
Some 6million adults ‘tried and failed’ to get an NHS dentist appointment, while 3.6million did not try ‘believing an appointment would not be available’, they said.
Another 1million people were also put off by the cost of NHS dental charges, with 500,000 others reported to be stuck on waiting lists.
According to the latest figures from NHS Digital on NHS dental activity, two-thirds of people in England also haven’t seen a dentist in two years.
Just 16.4million people had a check-up between June 2020 — in the early days of the pandemic — and June 2022, equivalent to 36.9 per cent of the population.
Earlier this week a leaked version of the NHS’s long-awaited workforce plan also warned dentists would need to see their numbers boost by 40 per cent in the next 15 years to meet the needs of England’s growing and ageing population.
Full list of Bupa dental practices affected
Dental practices closing
Bupa Dental Care Pontefract
Bupa Dental Care Bristol – St Pauls
Bupa Dental Care Rochdale
Bupa Dental Care Wolverhampton
Bupa Dental Care York
Bupa Dental Care Poole
Bupa Dental Care Bolsover
Bupa Dental Care Folkestone
Bupa Dental Care Shildon
Bupa Dental Care Tewkesbury
Bupa Dental Care Sunderland
Connaught Village Dentistry
Bupa Dental Care Harleston
Bupa Dental Care Leckhampton
Bupa Dental Care Gloucester
Bupa Dental Care Thames Ditton
Bupa Dental Care Ripon
Manchester Cheadle Dental and Implant Clinic
Bupa Dental Care Cleveleys
Bupa Dental Care Skegness
Bupa Dental Care Holborn
Bupa Dental Care Oakley Vale
Bupa Dental Care Manchester Square
Bupa Dental Care Waterlooville
Total Orthodontics Wokingham
Bupa Dental Care Barrow in Furness
Total Orthodontics Marlow
Bupa Dental Care Bishop Auckland – Market Place
Total Orthodontics Camberley
Bupa Dental Care Brandon
Bupa Dental Care Blackpool Station Road
Bupa Dental Care Eye
Bupa Dental Care Leslie
Source: Read Full Article