Patients concerned over NHS dentist relocation plan

Dentisit Dr Issa Abdul-Ghani and dental nurse Anje Cairns outside Saffron Walden Community Hospital,

Dentisit Dr Issa Abdul-Ghani and dental nurse Anje Cairns outside Saffron Walden Community Hospital, where they have rented their NHS practice for the last eight years. - Credit: Archant

An NHS dental surgery with 5,000 patients on its books looks set to relocate out of town as soon as the end of next year, leaving residents concerned over whether they will get the future treatment they require.

There are only two other NHS dentists in Saffron Walden aside from the Dental Suite at the town’s community hospital, with one on East Street already operating at full capacity, and the second on London Road unlikely to be able to take on the burden of thousands of extra patients.

The Dental Suite was only ever intended to be a provisional practice for up to two years, after which it was to move into a new health centre in Stansted. The practice has remained at the Dental Suite for eight years while the ongoing saga of Stansted’s long-awaited health centre continued to be drawn out.

Last week a public consultation on the move began, and a proposed site in Stansted has been cleared for building – but still there is no confirmation from the NHS on what exactly is happening and when.

Patient and mother-of-three Sharon Morris, 42, is concerned about the lack of information about the potential move.

“What they appear to have been trying to avoid – panicking everyone – hasn’t been successful,” said the Fulfen Way resident.

“We’ve been registered at the dentist for about five years. Dr Abdul-Ghani is great, he’s well respected and good with children – of course we’d rather not move.

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“The lack of information about it is unhelpful – we don’t know how upset to get about this. If we have got thousands of patients in Saffron Walden being seen in Stansted Mountfitchet then the residents in Stansted won’t be able to be accommodated there. They will have a shiny new dentist, in a shiny new health centre, but be unable to access the services.”

The new proposed Stansted Health Centre, on the former Castle Lotus Garage site off Chapel Road, would contain GPs in the village currently running over capacity, as well as Dr Issa Abdul-Ghani’s dental practice, currently based at Saffron Walden Community Hospital.

NHS England would not confirm the move, despite reportedly asking Dr Abdul-Ghani to conduct a public consultation at his practice, asking patients whether they would be able to relocate to Stansted.

The dentist has also not been told by NHS England whether the move is definitely going ahead, but was keen to reassure his patients that he will do his utmost to accommodate them at his proposed new practice.

“Nothing has yet been confirmed, but if it does go ahead, I will do everything in my power for my patients,” he said. “They will all be reserved a place at the new practice.”

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “We are at extremely early stages – it’s still only a potential move.

“We are working with Mr Abdul-Ghani at The Dental Suite to ensure patients are properly consulted about any possible move from Saffron Walden Community Hospital to the proposed Stansted Health Centre.”