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Dentist's Setback

PUBLISHED: 09:32 11 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:33 06 July 2010

MORE than 5,000 patients who have signed a petition in support of a Lowestoft dental practice threatened with closure were this week dealt a severe blow.

MORE than 5,000 patients who have signed a petition in support of a Lowestoft dental practice threatened with closure were this week dealt a severe blow.

The High Street Dental Surgery in Lowestoft, run by Dr David Johnson and partners, has been involved in a dispute with primary care trust (PCT) NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney in recent months.

As reported in The Journal more than 5,000 patients have signed petitions supporting the dental surgery but yesterday it was revealed that the independent adjudicating panel investigating the dispute had found in favour of the PCT.

Dr Sushil Jathanna, Chief Executive at NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, pledged that NHS dental services in the area would be retained.

Meanwhile, patients representing the practice vowed to carry on the campaign to support the dental surgery.

Dr Jathana said: “Over the last few months, there has been considerable local concern about the situation with Dr David Johnson and the High Street Dental surgery in Lowestoft. NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney has been aware that this situation has caused distress to many dental patients of the practice. However, the dispute has always been a contractual issue between NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney and Dr Johnson and was never about whether NHS dental services will be provided in this area of Lowestoft.

“It is unfortunate that Dr Johnson felt it necessary to refer the dispute, which arose out of the terms of a negotiated settlement agreement, to an adjudicating body for resolution. But that body, the Family Health Services Appeal Unit (FHSAU), has now come to its decision and has found entirely in favour of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, rejecting Dr Johnson's claim that he was told he had to retire at 70.”

Dr David Johnson said: “I have worked tirelessly for the NHS for over 30 years and feel completely indignant at the treatment of my patients by the PCT. The patients have loudly voiced their opinion but it seems to have fallen on the same deaf ears that forgot that they told me I needed to retire, when I didn't.

“I am considering taking the PCT to the High Court, in an effort to seek an independent judicial ruling on the conduct of the PCT in this matter. This isn't the action I want to take, but whilst the PCT continues to destroy the fantastic dentist patient relationship that my colleagues and I have built up over more than 30 years and don't allow continuation of our patients' treatment here in the High Street, I have no option.”

James Reeder, patients' representative said: “I have again written to Dr Jathana, leaving him in no doubt that we will continue to do everything possible to ensure that The High Street Dental Partnership can continue providing the first class service they have provided for so many years. I have also informed the Strategic Health Authority of the patients' outrage and have asked them to investigate the conduct of the Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT in this matter.”

Dr Johnson's contract with the PCT ends on March 31, 2010 and a tendering process has already started to make sure that a dental practice is in place to continue from April 1.


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