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Patients show their teeth over dental closure plan

PUBLISHED: 10:35 13 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:14 06 July 2010

PATIENTS of a Lowestoft dental surgery threatened with closure this week showed their determination to support the practice.

The High Street Dental Surgery, run by Dr David Johnson for more than 30 years, is in dispute with the primary care trust (PCT) NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

PATIENTS of a Lowestoft dental surgery threatened with closure this week showed their determination to support the practice.

The High Street Dental Surgery, run by Dr David Johnson for more than 30 years, is in dispute with the primary care trust (PCT) NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

Almost 200 patients gathered on Tuesday evening at the Hotel Victoria, in Lowestoft, to show their support for Dr Johnson and his partners.

There have also been two petitions supporting the surgery, containing in the region of 5,000 signatures, presented to the PCT.

Patients' representative James Reeder said despite numerous meetings with PCT officials they were unable so far to reach a compromise.

Members of the PCT board last month voted unanimously to proceed with a tender for the contract currently held by the surgery.

Mr Reeder said: “The High Street Dental Surgery has submitted a tender but we cannot understand the need for a tender process when the current surgery has so much support from its patients. Dr Johnson has also been a staunch supporter of the NHS for many years.”

Those attending the meeting were unanimous in their support of Mr Reeder when he said that if the PCT would not listen to what patients were saying they would have no alternative but to appeal to higher authorities including the Strategic Health Authority and the Department of Health.

James Elliott, deputy director of commissioning at the PCT, told The Journal that both sides in the dispute had agreed to the matter being resolved by the Family Health Services Appeal Unit.

Mr Elliott said that as the agreement contained a confidentiality clause the PCT would not make further comment.

On Wednesday, Mr Reeder had a meeting with Dr Sushi Jathanna, who was appointed chief executive of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney last week.

“I was very well received by the new chief executive and it was a friendly and constructive meeting. Dr Jathanna was made aware of the current situation from the patients' perspective and he promised to take a fresh look at the dispute,” said Mr Reeder.

“We have been able to make our position clear to him and the ball is now very much in the PCT's court,” he said.


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