New dental surgery prepares to open its doors - and says it's already seen huge demand, which is expected to grow as lockdown ends
PEOPLE in need of dental work are being encouraged to seek help as a new practice prepares to open its doors in Wickham.
Damira Dental Studios, which already operates a group of 23 practices, will be opening its new practice, being built next to Wickham Surgery in Houghton Way, on March 8.
The practice has been months in the making, as it has been built from scratch, and will employ a practice manager, dentist, nurse, hygienist and receptionist across its four rooms, which it hopes to grow as demand increases.
Dentist Eduardo De Campo, who previously worked at Damira’s Sharland House practice in Fareham before going on to work in Southampton, has rejoined the company to work in Wickham.
Anushika Brogan, managing director, said there was a great demand in the area, which is expected to grow when new town Welborne is built nearby.
She said: ‘It was an opportunity that came our way as the general practice was in need of some kind of dental coverage, since we have been so busy in our Sharland House and West Street practices we knew there is a need to provide more services in this area.'
The dentist will not be taking on new NHS patients, but Anushika said they have set up a monthly plan in order to give people an affordable option - and take off the strain.
She said the Smile Plan Essential has proved popular with existing clients and has even seen NHS patients swap to it as it includes discounts on work such as white fillings or extractions which are not covered on the NHS.
‘The NHS doesn't have any funding to increase its provision so we are offering a planned provision of £15 per month, where people get two check ups and two hygienist visits per year, plus a 15 per cent discount on other work,’ she said.
‘Our NHS waiting list is two years long. We are trying to work on what we can do. There are a lot of people out there that do not have a dentist.
‘The doctor’s surgery has 13,000 patients and a lot of them have not got a dentist, there’s only one other dentist in Wickham. We have already been very busy.’
Damira’s expansion comes after the number of NHS dentists in Portsmouth has dropped by around a third between 2018/19 and 2019/20. The wider Havant area dropped by half, while Fareham and Gosport saw a 20 per cent reduction.
An investigation by The News last year revealed more than 77,000 people nationwide had turned up at overstretched A&Es in 2019/20 with dental problems, costing the NHS an estimated £13m.
Anushika said the pandemic had exacerbated problems an already stretched system, with dental practices having to put in a range of measures to keep people safe, including needing to leave rooms to fallow after treatment for at least 20 minutes.
She said: ‘Every single service is stretched because of that.
‘The mouth is an important part of your body, and it often gets neglected.
‘We have seen children that, because of the pandemic, have not seen a dentist for two years. They should be coming in for minor treatment, but instead are needing root canal treatment. For us it’s all about getting patients in to give them preventive treatment, rather than curative.
‘The issue is that there are so many patients out there needing care. There are 8,000 people on our books who have not been to the dentist in 18 months.
‘When the pandemic finishes, there will be a big demand for services. We are trying to operate as best as we possibly can, following protocols, which can make us unproductive.
‘It has also been very difficult, in terms of staffing, with people off sick, needing to self isolate or with Covid. It has been a difficult time, as it has for any business.
‘It’s also impossible to budget as we do not know what next year will bring, or whether we will even be able to see people.
‘At the moment there does not seem like there is a solution. We have to wait it out in terms of health care but the main thing is that we are providing an extra service to get more people through the doors.
‘The more people we can see, the quicker we will get back to normal. By giving people an option, then if people can afford to pay, then we can see more people quicker. It is good for people to be aware that we are there if they need something.’