Why we no longer provide NHS Dental Services
Firstly we love our jobs and in particular the all amazing people we have the privilege of treating and getting to know. We hope you have been able to see this passion over the many years you have been with us.
We have provided NHS dentistry at the Half Moon Dental Centre since we opened in 1999. The practice has offered NHS dentistry for the entirety of this period despite no other practices in the local area doing so.
The news about many dentists leaving the NHS is a sad reflection on the difficulties faced within dentistry. The Half Moon Dental Centre is contracted to see NHS patients, but this contract is limited. The terms of this contract introduced in 2006 have not changed in any meaningful way since. We have struggled for many years with this contract and it is no secret we have had to rely on private treatments to top up the short comings. So much so that the practice could not exist without it. In fact all of the changes and investments you have seen over the years are not as a result of NHS funding but reinvestment within the business through private fees.
The costs of providing dentistry that have spiralled since the pandemic are increasing further with a combination of Brexit (nearly all of our equipment and materials are manufactured on the continent) and inflation.
The NHS contract in its current form has not changed significantly enough to account for these increases. The pleasure of providing NHS dentistry has also diminished significantly due to increases in administrative burdens.
We understand the anger that this decision will create. We have provided this service for many years very well but we can no longer cope funding this privilege with top ups from private fees. You are entitled to NHS dentistry but as adults you pay for 88% of what we receive.
We have to work with the contract we are given. There is no negotiation. We have struggled to make it work for too long. We have had enough of having to limit people to time slots, juggling appointments to suit deadlines and giving off mixed messages to try to make this contract work. It is a game that we have run out of energy trying to play and plan for.
Dentistry has changed so much in the last 10 years with advancements many of you have seen first-hand. We want to keep pace with these changes and continue to offer the very best for all of our patients. The NHS contract cannot cope with the cost implications of these advances both dentally and medically. This is perhaps another conversation.
We feel very strongly about prevention which is why we have built our practice around the hygienists. This kind of prevention is just not allocated for within the NHS contract and it is so beneficial. We also feel very strongly about NHS Dentistry for Children but despite our best efforts we were not permitted a child only NHS contract.
What does this all mean?
From 1st December we will be unable to perform NHS treatment. We have many open courses of treatment and previously booked dental examinations that will continue up to this date. We have calculated that we do not have the capacity for any new NHS check-ups. We need to allocate time and contract responsibility for these existing appointments and complete treatments that have started.
We are able to accept appointments Privately or for those who join the Practice Plan if you wish to be seen. We would encourage you to register as a Practice Plan patient as soon as you can to ensure continuity of your care and to take advantage of everything the plan offers. At this point we need to reiterate that the spaces on these schemes are limited. This is to ensure we can allocate for the increased time you will be given with the dentist. Please don’t delay and join the plan to start the benefits.
We will continue to see under 6s for free provided they attend during a parent or guardians dental appointment. There is no action required for children under 6, but an adult must be a private patient or plan member.
Those over 6 and under 18 who join the plan will see great changes. A hygienist appointment will offer so much benefit. A change that will provide life lessons for prevention, all for only £9 a month.
Currently an NHS adult will only pay £26.40 more a year on the second level ‘Hygiene’ plan than they do as an NHS patient. We have kept the costs as keen as possible. For this extra £26.40 you will receive 15% off most treatments and the benefits of being on "the Scheme" in case of accidents or oral cancer.
We are keen to engage in conversations with you about this decision but we cannot now reverse our decision. To find a local NHS dentist you can call 111. If you have any questions about the provision of NHS Dentistry please contact the London Area Team on 0300 3112233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our receptionists are available to discuss the benefits of the plans we have arranged and the options available to you.
Please sign up by visiting https://patientsignup.practiceplan.co.uk and log on with your unique bar code. We have limited availability on the plans so please act now so your cover can start immediately and you are ready for your next check up and hygienist appointment.
At this point we would again like to thank you for your trust in us over the years and hope very much to be able to continue seeing you and your family for many more years to come.
Daniel and Nici Hopkins