Ipswich dentist wants to expand as patients rise 25% in two years
- Credit: PA
An Ipswich dental practice wants to expand its surgery after a 25% rise in patients over two years.
Foxhall Dental Practice has 14,000 patients on its books and has a waiting list of more than 1,000 who want to join for NHS care.
It hopes plans to build a rear single-storey link extension, alter an existing single-storey outbuilding and change the use of an outbuilding into a dental surgery at 47 to 49 Foxhall Road will be approved by Ipswich Borough Council.
Hiten Pabari, the owner of Foxhall, and Blue Sky Dental in Chelmsford, explained under dental contracts the surgery is limited in the number of appointments it can offer NHS patients but stressed the expansion would help the surgery become more efficient at dealing with patients.
Mr Pabari said: "We find it very stressful to keep with targets that the government puts on us and we do everything we can to hit these targets.
"The NHS is suffering a huge problem with access to dental care.
"In general the majority of the population do not have access to NHS dental care. We offer as many general appointments as we can but we are limited on this."
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He also said any relocation, costing an estimated £1.2million, would reduce the surgery's ability to provide NHS care.
"The make-up of NHS patients would be reduced as a commercial business we would need to get back that investment," he said.
"We also don't want to alienate our existing customer base who walk to the surgery currently and find it difficult to travel.
"You can't relocate to an industrial estate, we need to process patients who can't get access easily."
He said another reason for the expansion is that the volume of patients seen has had to be reduced due to Covid measures in dental surgeries, and the fact that Ipswich's population keeps growing.
It was one of two urgent care centres, during the peak of the pandemic and is the only provider in Suffolk of NHS Oral Surgery with Sedation.
And Foxhall continues to have 10% set aside of its working week for unregistered NHS patients who need emergency relief from pain.
Mark Jones, from campaign group Toothless in Suffolk, welcomed the news but said it "won't make a huge difference" in the wider dental picture in Suffolk.
He added: "It's no longer financially viable to offer NHS appointments and it puts targets before patient care.
"More work needs to be done."