University Dental Practice sold, disrupting student services

Will Tilbrook 13 January 2017

Cambridge University has sold its dedicated dental practice due to changes related to its NHS contract and concerns about its financial position.

The clinic was sold on 22 December, its website reveals.

An investigation carried out by the University in 2015 found that there was a lack of demand for the practice’s services due to many students returning home to receive check-ups and surgery.

A University spokesperson said at the time that few students used the clinic, so staff with access to private dental care would mostly be affected.

The new contract means that the practice will be obliged to accept any patient who wishes to register there, rather than providing treatment exclusively to members of the University.

According to The Reporter: “The new owners and managers are committed to providing continuity of treatment to patients currently under the care of the Practice and welcome new patients.”

However, some students report that they have been subject to last-minute changes and cancellations. Rianna Croxford, of CU-TV press, commented on Twitter: "Cambridge Uni Dentist just cancelled my appointment as they're no longer seeing NHS patients, as they've just been sold & 'privatized'". 

Although the University’s dental practice offered NHS treatment to all undergraduate and postgraduate students, it offered only private treatment to staff. The British Dental Association (BDA) has criticised patient charges for NHS dental treatment.

The BDA General Dental Practice chair, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, last year described England’s dental charges as “a tax on health.”

He continued: “These increases aren’t putting an extra penny into the service, they are just a winning formula for cuts by stealth. […]

“Dentists are health professionals not tax collectors. Our patients need an adequately funded service, and they deserve some honest answers on how that service will be paid for.”

CU-TV have asked the University for comment.