A new NHS dentist surgery is poised to open just yards from a private practice that stopped accepting NHS patients earlier this year.

An application to transform a former electrical store in Billingham town centre into a dental practice has been submitted to Stockton Council.

In his application, Az Hyder said his company, Burgess-Hyder, planned to cater for the thousands of patients in the “high needs risk area” of Billingham who previously had access to NHS treatment.

The application says: “We would like to improve access to dental care, for the huge demand of approximately 10,000 patients, in a high needs risk area, due to a recently closed NHS dental service.

“We aim to provide a seven surgery dental practice, providing NHS dental care, emergency dental services, family general dental care and oral heath promotion for the community.

“The site will be a modern, purpose built, single storey surgery and fully equipped for DDA compliance.”

If approved, the ground floor former shop unit at 58 Queensway would employ 17 full-time staff providing NHS services from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 2pm on Saturdays.

The move comes after nearby Queensway Dental Practice announced in January that it would be going private.

The practice had provided general dental services on the NHS for 25 years but, due a squeeze on its finances, stopped accepting NHS patients on April 1.

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The controversial decision led Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, to say he was “extremely concerned” for the affected NHS patients as he called on the Government to do more to support NHS dentistry.

He said: “While I have been told that there are many dentists taking NHS patients, investigations from my office have shown that these are few and far between and often only offering long waiting lists or charging holding fees.

“I am also concerned that a 10 mile radius will mean complicated journeys for many patients – and potentially put people off from signing up to another dentist.”

But a page on the Queensway Dental Practice website explained that the decision was made because their NHS contract was “actually running at a loss”.

It added: “This situation could not be sustained any longer, and after some lengthy discussions and negotiations with our local NHS team, it had become apparent that it was not possible for the NHS to alter our contract arrangements.”

Those patients that stayed with Queensway Dental Practice now either pay for each individual treatment or go onto a payment plan.

The current cost of a routine check-up on the NHS is £21.60 – more involved treatments, such as having a crown fitted, cost £256.50.

Private treatment can cost more than twice the NHS price for equivalent services.

Public consultation on the application by Burgess-Hyder ends on October 31.

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