Bupa Dental Care to close, sell or merge 85 practices
Three practices in Scotland are affected
Bupa Dental Care is to close, sell or merge 85 dental practices in the UK, citing “the national shortage of dentists and increased costs caused by inflation.”
The company said that all 475 Bupa practices across the UK and Ireland are currently open as usual, with changes to affected practices taking place later this year.
A list of affected practices published by Bupa includes three in Scotland: Leslie in Fife (closing); Cove Bay, Aberdeen (under review); and Kingseat, Aberdeen (under review).
The business has been unable to recruit enough dentists to deliver NHS care in many practices for months, and in some cases years, it said. It blames “industry-wide challenges of the NHS contract model, and increased demand and complexity of care since the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Mark Allan, General Manager for Bupa Dental Care, said:
As a leading dental provider in the UK, our priority must be to enable patients to receive the care they need.
For the majority of affected practices, this decision will allow commissioners to procure local providers for the NHS contract, tailoring services and investment to the needs of the local community, thereby providing a better opportunity for patients to continue access to NHS dental services.
The company said its focus was for “patients to receive the NHS care they need and deserve, and Bupa will provide resources to help patients find alternative local providers. For practices that are due to close, Bupa will be handing back the dental contract to the NHS, which will allow commissioners to procure a new provider, thereby providing patients with a better opportunity to continue access to NHS dental services.”
Bupa said will also support employees through this change, “redeploying affected colleagues where possible to continue their careers with Bupa.”
Mr Allan added:
We fully understand the impact today’s decision has on our patients and our people within these practices. This decision has not been taken lightly and closure is a last resort.
Despite our continued efforts, the dental industry is facing a number of significant and systemic challenges that are placing additional pressure on providing patient care, in particular recruiting dentists to deliver NHS dental care. This decision enables us to focus our efforts on high-quality, continued sustainable care for patients across our wider portfolio.
Bupa said it remained “fully committed to the UK dental market and provision of NHS services, and all its dental practices across the UK and Ireland are open as usual. The affected dental practices will either be sold, closed or merged later this year, with the timing of the service changes varying by location. Bupa will be working with the affected practices over the coming months and expect to complete the process later in the year.”