In an era marked by significant cost increases for dental practices, often without commensurate funding adjustments, the strain on NHS dental services has grown. This has led many practices to reluctantly relinquish their NHS contracts, causing the number of active NHS dentists in England to plummet, as reported in The Guardian. Our very own, Dartmoor Dental however continues to offer accessible dental care to thousands of NHS exempt adults and children, whilst also providing cutting-edge private digital dentistry.
We spoke with owner Mike Hesketh, to understand why providing NHS care remains a priority for Dartmoor Dental; "We see over 3,000 NHS patients a year, free to them, most of whom are children. This activity decreases the risk of toothache whilst lightening the burden of tooth decay on our overstretched medical colleagues. We consider it our duty to care for our community.”
Dr Linda Greenwall, founder of Dental Wellness Trust, in 2022 stated, "Every year, 48,000 children go into hospital to have their rotten teeth removed in England. That’s a big crisis." To help address this issue, Dartmoor Dental established Tavistock's first and only dedicated NHS Kids Club during school holidays, writing to all the local schools offering appointments on top of their usual commitment.
On the 27th of October, the practice was honoured to receive a visit from Sir Geoffrey Cox, our local MP. During his visit, Mike formally requested his assistance in obtaining additional resources from the NHS board to cover increased dental costs and support the continuation of their NHS program. After spending time at the practice meeting the team and understanding the business & NHS challenges, Sir Geoffrey commented, "It is fantastic to see such a skilled team looking after our community in such a passionate way. I’m committed to working with the practice and NHS board to support this noble effort to care for those in our society that need it most. I have been very impressed with the half a million-pound investment in the practice over the last year, enabling better facilities for all its patients. Local communities need businesses like this, and it will be my pleasure to help support in whatever way I can”.
Every one of Dartmoor Dental’s high-quality dental team treat NHS exempt patients, ensuring continuity of service should a single clinician leave. The practice offers a low-cost monthly membership option for parents who don’t qualify for free NHS dental care but want the ease and peace of mind of being registered at the same practice as their children.
Building strong relationships with Peninsula Dental School, Plymouth (recently voted Britain’s leading Dental University 2023), has also played a pivotal role in attracting newly qualified dental clinicians further strengthening the region's dental care infrastructure.
Looking to 2024 Dartmoor Dental remains committed to serving the Tavistock community, echoing Mike Hesketh's words, "It is our mission to ensure essential dentistry is accessible for exempt adults & children in Tavistock, and we hope with the support of the community & help from Sir Geoffrey we will be able to continue doing so”.