Two Wigan dental practices will be sold due to shortage of dentists
Bupa Dental Care is set to cut 85 dental practices across the UK, affecting 1,200 staff.
Among them are Bupa Dental Care Ashton-in-Makerfield and Total Orthodontics Wigan.
The healthcare group said patients at the affected practices have not been able to access the NHS dental service they need.
Bupa, which provides NHS and private dental care, said the 85 practices will be closed, sold or merged later this year, bringing the total number of practices in the UK down to 365.
All the practices will remain open as usual in the meantime.
Bupa said it would redeploy affected staff where possible to different areas of the business.
The provider has not been able to recruit enough dentists to deliver NHS care in many practices for months and in some cases years, it said.
National shortages of dentists have been worsened by the NHS contract model, and because of an increased demand and complexity of care since the pandemic, Bupa warned.
The industry has also been affected by inflation and higher energy prices, increasing the cost to run patient services.
Mark Allan, general manager for Bupa Dental Care, said: “As a leading dental provider in the UK, our priority must be to enable patients to receive the care they need.
“For the majority of affected practices, this decision will allow commissioners to procure local providers for the NHS contract, tailoring services and investment to the needs of the local community, thereby providing a better opportunity for patients to continue access to NHS dental services.”
Bupa said it would be handing back the dental contract to the NHS for practices that are set to close, meaning commissioners can find a new provider.
Mr Allan went on: “We fully understand the impact today’s decision has on our patients and our people within these practices.
“This decision has not been taken lightly and closure is a last resort.
“Despite our continued efforts, the dental industry is facing a number of significant and systemic challenges that are placing additional pressure on providing patient care, in particular recruiting dentists to deliver NHS dental care.”