FAQs Changes to NHS Dental Care at the practice

Carriage Works Lostwithiel Dental Surgery

Patient Q&A

Here, we aim to provide answers to the questions you may have about the change we are making to the way we deliver our NHS services. This page will be reviewed and updated regularly.

What is happening

Q. Why is the contract to provide NHS dental service at the practice changing?

A: We are committed to providing excellent dental care through the NHS. However, there are challenges. There is a mix of not enough funding, fewer dentists willing to provide NHS care, and increased costs. Also, we face strict targets that affect our finances.

To address these issues, we are partnering with NHS England and the local Integrated Care Board. Our practice in Lostwithiel is part of a pilot project aiming to:

  1. Ease the pressure on emergency services: We will provide quicker dental care to reduce pressure on hospitals and clinics.
  2. Tackle health inequalities: We will focus on groups most needing dental care.
  3. Increase access for emergencies: We will prioritise patients with urgent dental needs.
  4. Help dentists earn fairly: Dentists have seen their income drop, and we want to change that.
  5. Improve the current dental payment system: We are looking at how the system treats high needs patients.

Q: Who will continue to be seen for NHS services at the practice?

A: The aim of this pilot is to focus our NHS services on:

  1. Children under 18
  2. Patients over 80, without complex dental restorations such as dental implants
  3. Patients with medical conditions that may impact on their ability to maintain their dental health
  4. Patients on the NHS waiting list and referred patients who need urgent care

Q: How will this pilot project be reviewed?

A: The pilot will be reviewed on an ongoing basis throughout a minimum of 2 years, to assess performance. We want to see improvements in access for the above groups.

Q. What happens next?

A: Patients will receive a letter from the practice outlining the change. This will be via email if we hold an email address for you, and by post if we do not.

Patients falling within the above groups will be contacted by us in due course, there is no need to contact the practice at this time.

If you do not fall into these groups, you will shortly receive a second letter (by post) to explain in more detail these options:

Join our Practice Plan for affordable check-ups and treatments. This is an affordable plan with special pricing and terms that is only available for patients affected by this change.

Use our Pay as You Go service for treatment fees.

Q. What do patients need to do if they are no longer able to receive NHS services at the practice?

A. You will receive two letters from us, the second letter will arrive by post and will explain your options.

We understand that everyone has different needs, and our team is here to help you make the right choice.

After you have received the second letter, we will be happy to answer any queries you may have. Please use the email address: as this will help to keep the phone lines available for those who need them. We kindly ask that you await the second letter before making contact, should you need to.

Q: What if I have not received a letter from you by email or post?

A: If you have not heard from us by Thursday 5 October, please feel free to contact us. Please use the email address: as this will help to keep the phone lines available for those who need them.

Q. How many patients is this change affecting? 

A: The practice currently provides NHS care for 6,500 patients. In the pilot project 30% of this care is for our current patients who are in the groups above. The remaining 70% of our NHS capacity will be for those in great need of dental care.

This pilot project will help those who have been unable to access NHS care for many years.

Q. Have patients been told about the change?

A: The practice held a public meeting to share the news with patients in person and to answer any questions. The meeting took place on Monday 25 September 2023.

After the meeting, the practice has written to all patients (by email or post, according to our records) to explain the change and what it means. People who will no longer receive NHS services from the practice will receive a second letter (by post) that explains their options for continuing to receive dental care from the practice.

Accessing dental care from the practice

Q. What if I need an appointment now?

A. If you have an NHS appointment booked before Monday 9 October, please attend as usual.

For patients who fall into the groups and will continue to receive NHS care at the practice:

We will contact you in due course according to your last visit with us. If you need to book an appointment before then, please contact us as usual.

Q. What if I am currently undergoing NHS treatment at the practice?

A: If you have started an NHS treatment plan with us and have appointments booked after 9th October, we will complete this for you.

Q: Will all patients who are unable to access NHS services be able to sign up for private care at the practice if they wish?

A: We have been able to increase our private capacity in order to offer care to as many patients as possible who are affected by this change. Spaces will be on a first come first served basis so please do look out for the letters that tell you what you need to do.

Q: How do I join the private Care Plan?

A: If you are no longer able to receive NHS care at the practice, you will receive a letter (by post) with details about joining our care plan, available only to patients who are affected by this change.

After you have received this letter, if you require further information or assistance please contact the surgery using the email address: .This will help to keep the phone lines available for those who need them.

Q: Is there a deadline for accepting the private Care Plan?

A: Availability is on a first come first served basis until we reach capacity for the services that we are able to provide.

Q: Can we join a different plan with higher costs and benefits?

A: To begin with, we want to keep it simple and offer everyone the same plan whilst we get this contract up and running. Care plans can be discussed with your dentist at your first appointment, during which we can advise which care plan is suitable for you.

Q: What are the medical conditions that make a patient eligible for NHS care at the practice?

A: We cannot provide these details as it would pose a risk to patient confidentiality.

We have looked very closely at every patient’s medical history and have used our expertise to identify those who will need our attention under NHS services.

If you have received an additional letter that offers you the option to join the practice on a private basis, you do not meet the eligibility for our NHS services.

Q: What if I think I should be in one of the above groups, can I contact you to remain as an NHS patient?

A: We are confident that we have identified all patients correctly. We have looked closely at every patient’s medical history and applied our expertise to identify those who will need our attention under NHS services.

There is of course a finite capacity for those services.

Q: If someone joins as a private patient as a result of this change, then develops a condition that places them in one of the above groups, can they revert to being an NHS patient?

A: Yes, for postcode PL22 only. We will hold a local contact list for these patients, who will be allocated a space when one becomes available.

Note that postcode does not affect those already on the patient list who fall into the above groups or who wish to join us on a private basis.

Q. What if I have another baby, can they be seen under the NHS?

A. Children in the PL22 postcode can be added to our local contact list to join the practice for NHS services.

If you already have children at the practice, we will add siblings to our local contact list regardless of postcode as we aim to keep families together.

Q. I have been identified as a patient who is not eligible to receive NHS services at the practice. I do not wish to join as a private patient because I want to have an NHS dentist. What can I do?

A: You can contact other dental practices to see if they may have availability. However, there is very limited capacity across Cornwall and nationally.

Use the NHS ‘Find a dentist’ tool on the NHS website to look up dental practices, and you can make contact to find out if they have availability (if it is not listed on the web page).

You can also contact the Dental Helpline, which aims to ensure patients are allocated to a practice as quickly as possible when places become available.

It is best to contact them by email, as the phone lines are very busy. The contact details are:


Phone: 03330 063 300

In the event of an urgent dental need, contact NHS 111 online or by phone and choose the dental option.

Q: How are you choosing who can and cannot afford to join you as a private dental patient?

A: In the face of limited capacity for NHS services, the pilot project aims to focus those services on the people in greatest need of NHS dental care.

This is not about who can and cannot afford dental care; it is about improving access to NHS dental care by addressing health inequalities that we know exist.