Harrogate MP intervenes over NHS dental problems in the town labelled a 'major concern'
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Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said he felt reassured that improvements were on the way after he arranged a meeting with Stephen Eames, Chief Executive of the Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB).
“I was impressed by Mr Eames and his team when I met them,” said Mr Jones.
"They understood the urgency of the issue, realised that a local solution was needed and got busy working out how to provide it.
"They are confident that they can support displaced NHS patients locally and I am grateful for their commitment to doing that.”
The meeting was a follow-up from an ICB briefing earlier this month for all Humber and North Yorkshire MPs where Mr Jones had initially raised the issue of NHS patients displaced from Chatsworth House dental practice in Harrogate.
Mr Jones said a substantial increase in NHS dental capacity locally is now being discussed as the ICB look to a quick launch of new ‘Centres of Dental Development’.
These aim to provide an innovative approach to support, develop and retain the dental workforce in Humber and North Yorkshire.
“We have a short-term issue – one that I raised at Prime Minister’s Questions – about what happens when a practice suddenly closes to NHS patients as has happened here,” he said.
"We also have a medium-term issue about increasing NHS dentistry capacity.
"Mr Eames and I discussed both these issues.
“It is good that the ICB are looking at the long-term sustainability of our dental service."
The Harrogate Tory MP’s intervention follows the announcement by Chatsworth House that it was closing to NHS patients and would be seeing patients on a membership-only basis from December 1.
The news raised the political temperature on an issue highlighted earlier this year by Tom Gordon, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Harrogate and Knaresborough.
Backed by information compiled by the Lib Dems nationally, Mr Gordon said the lack of NHS dental provision in the Harrogate area was of major concern to residents, especially when it came to children.
“Over the summer we launched our own dental survey in Harrogate,” said Mr Gordon.
“Just 30% of people we spoke with told us they were registered with an NHS dentist.
“Access to NHS dentistry is one of the biggest issues that comes up on the doorstep time and time again,”
But Andrew Jones MP is keen to show he is on top of the issue.
As well as raising the question of dental practices closing to NHS patients in the Commons, Mr Jones is calling for the ICB to locate any new Centre of Dental Development in Harrogate.
“The ICB has said they are planning to redistribute the funding given to Chatworth House to other local practices so that they can take on more patients
"I have also asked that Harrogate, which is the largest town in North Yorkshire, will be host to one of these new centres.
“Such a facility would place front and centre significant dental provision for our area.
"This is a positive and constructive approach.
"To have such a centre in Harrogate would be a huge boon to our area.”