A collaboration between the NHS and a Cornwall dental surgery, has created a new pilot, enabling children and the most vulnerable patients to access an NHS dentist.

Carriage Works Lostwithiel Dental Surgery has been struggling to maintain NHS services due to  national challenges affecting NHS dental provision.

NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board and NHS England worked closely with the practice to create a local solution that enabled them to continue to offer NHS services and support with dental emergencies.

The aim of the pilot project is to focus the practice’s limited NHS capacity on people with the greatest need for those services.

NHS services at the practice will continue to be available to children under 18, patients over 80 (without complex restorations such as dental implants), and patients with medical conditions that may impact on their ability to maintain their dental health.

The practice will also see patients from the NHS waiting list and patients who need urgent dental care, referred by other healthcare providers. This pilot project will help those who have been unable to access NHS care for many years.

The change will affect around 4,500 patients at the practice, who have the option to join an alternative dental practice or decide if they wish to stay with Carriage Works Lostwithiel Dental Surgery on a private basis.

Chris Reid, chief medical officer for NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly said:  “The team at Carriage Works Lostwithiel Dental Surgery should be applauded for what they are preparing to deliver through this exciting pilot project that ensures they continue to provide NHS funded dental care to the people that need it most.

“We have worked closely with NHS England and the practice to support this change, which will see the contract offering NHS dental services for children, vulnerable people and those in most need of urgent care from October.

“We are interested to see how this project makes a difference locally and if there is potential to expand this approach more widely.”

Finlay Bason, practice owner and principal dentist said: “First and foremost, we are committed to providing excellent NHS dental care at Carriage Works Lostwithiel Dental Surgery.

“It is our hope that this pilot project will enable us to continue doing so, by allowing us to focus our limited NHS capacity on the people with the greatest need for those services.

“We know that for many patients the change won’t come as welcome news. We do hope to have their understanding that we are doing our very best in a complex and challenging situation.”

Patients were informed of the changes at a public meeting held in Lostwithiel on Monday, September 25, with letters being sent to all patients and full details available on the practice website.

The pilot contract comes into effect on October 9. It will be reviewed on an ongoing basis throughout a minimum of two years to assess performance such as improvements in access for the identified groups.

The practice are also introducing a local contact list of patients in the PL22 postcode who meet their NHS criteria, so that they can be contacted when space becomes available.