A dental practice in Sunderland recently announced via Facebook that it would be withdrawing its NHS care and changing to a “fully comprehensive private practice”.

Silver & Charlton Dental wrote on Facebook, “As valued patients of our practice, providing you with the highest level of dental care is our key priority. For over four decades we have proudly provided that care as part of the NHS.

"But, lack of investment in NHS dentistry and rising costs mean we no longer feel that we can provide the level of dental care you have come to expect from us.

“Looking ahead and to ensure your oral health care is our number one priority we have made the decision to move our Fulwell Clinic away from the NHS and into a fully comprehensive private practice.

“From 14th June, Fulwell will offer dental care to adult patients on a private basis only."

Tim Harding, a patient at the surgery, told the Sunderland Echo, “I’m not concerned for myself but I’m concerned for people like the elderly or vulnerable who cannot afford to pay for private dental treatment.

"The practice has only given patients three weeks’ notice about this change and no thought has been given to the fact that there are no other local dentists available, there are no alternatives.

"Most NHS dentists either have no spaces available or there is a long waiting list to be accepted.

"I get that businesses need to make money, however the way that this has been handled via social media is just a disgrace, it is shameful and even more so when austerity is on the rise.”

According to the local news outlet, Silver & Charlton Dental also has another practice located on John Street in Sunderland city centre, which is set to remain as a NHS dentist. However, patients at the Fulwell site cannot transfer due to it being at full capacity.

Commenting on its own Facebook post, Silver & Charlton Dental stated, "Unfortunately, you cannot transfer to John Street at as they do not have capacity to accept any more NHS patients.

“If you do not wish to join the plan, you will need to find a new NHS dentist.”

The company has also confirmed via their Facebook comments that “patients requiring disabled access, if have been treated within the practice in the past four years will still access NHS treatment at Fulwell, but please be aware it may not be with your usual dentist.”

The Facebook post has since received over 300 comments.

One patient wrote, “It’s not that they’re withdrawing the NHS treatment, that’s their prerogative, it’s the fact that they gave almost no notice to make alternative arrangements and people who have no social media (the elderly) will still be oblivious. This is straight out of the P&O ferries management handbook.”

Meanwhile, another shared a similar sentiment, writing, “Absolutely no notice was given. A couple of days ago I thought I had a dentist. Yesterday I found that I don't. They are no longer taking routine appointments and this is before letters have been sent. People are finding out through word of mouth and social media. The pool of NHS dentists has grown much smaller and so the many people who need NHS care are now out in a limb.”

However, another patient wrote, “Not an easy decision, I'm sure, but the problem lies firmly at the door of central government for failing to invest adequate funding in NHS dentistry for decades. CQC guidelines have made it impossible to function and run a business without operating at a loss. Good luck guys.”