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Nwicker60
13-Jan-12, 11:38
New four-surgery clinic at Thurso has capacity to register a total of six thousand patients when fully staffed

PEOPLE living in Caithness will have better access to NHS dental services with the opening of the new Dunbar Dental Clinic at the Dunbar Hospital in Thurso this week.
General Dental Practitioner, Dr John Barry, has taken on the lease on the new four-surgery dental clinic - built by NHS Highland at a cost of 1.2 million - and he will run it as an NHS committed practice.
This is one of the first leases of its type to be agreed in Scotland and the practice, which is now open for patients, will have the capacity to register 6,000 patients once it is fully staffed.
NHS Highland Dental Service Development Manager, Alex Fraser, said: “We are delighted that the opening of this clinic will significantly improve access to NHS dental care for people living in this area. There are currently 4,833 people on the waiting list for NHS registration in the Caithness area and the practice will ensure that all these patients are offered an opportunity to register with them before opening registration up to the wider community.”
She explained that priority is being given to patients registered with the Salaried Dental Team, which used to provide a service in Thurso, and those on the waiting list for NHS registration.
Letters have already been sent to patients registered with the Salaried Dental Team in Thurso advising them that their registration will be transferred to the new practice. However, these patients can opt out of the transfer to the new clinic and choose to access care from the Salaried Dental Team in Wick, if this is their preferred option.
Letters have also gone to the first 1,500 people on the waiting list offering them the opportunity to register with the new practice.
Dr Barry, who has been based in Caithness for the last 24 years, is delighted to be able to offer NHS treatment to local people.
He said: “We have just undergone eight very intensive days of training - role playing, getting accustomed to the fabric of the building and getting used to the materials and the equipment - and are now happy that we have a very cohesive team.
“We are now getting into a rhythm and I’m very pleased with the way it’s going, but would ask local people not turn up on spec as this puts enormous pressure on the service.
“The clinic will contact patients from the list in the order of priority, so please do not contact the clinic unless you have been offered a place. No registrations for a place will be offered at the clinic until the waiting list has been cleared.”
Colin Punler, a non-executive board member of NHS Highland who chairs the North Highland Community Health Partnership Committee, said: "The loss of NHS dental services in West Caithness has been a long-running sore for people in more ways than one, so I'm sure everyone associated with the NHS will be delighted to see the restoration of this service.
"The Scottish Government provided the money to make it possible to build a new practice and the NHS dental team worked really hard to put in place a contractor who will prioritise the needs of NHS patients.
“It's good news for the area and the investment underlines the continuing commitment of the NHS to the Dunbar site as a centre for first-class healthcare services."
Emergency services for unregistered patients are provided by the new practice in partnership with the Salaried Dental Team in Wick. Patients can access this service through the NHS Highland Dental Helpline on 0845 6442271.