Councillors in Ripon have issued a warning about the lack of NHS dentists in the city after a practice that has treated patients since the 1960s confirmed it will be closing in June.

Bupa Dental Care announced last month that its practice on Finkle Street, which primarily treats NHS patients, will shut its doors for good.

The company is planning to to close, sell or merge over 80 practices across the country and blamed a shortage of NHS dentists and increased running costs caused by inflation and energy prices.

There are now no other dentists in Ripon that are accepting new NHS patients. Bupa will give its NHS contract for the Finkle Street practice back to local health commissioners.

Ripon City Council discussed Bupa’s decision at a meeting this week and agreed to write to health secretary Steve Barclay as well as local Conservative MP Julian Smith to highlight the worsening problem.

Cllr Peter Horton said the nearest dental practices that are accepting NHS patients are in York and Guiseley which he called “completely unnacceptable”. He added:

“The city is getting bigger, there’s more building going and there will be more demand for dentistry.”

A BBC investigation last year found that nine in 10 NHS dental practices across the UK are not accepting new adult patients for treatment under the health service.

The British Dental Association also estimates 11 million people in England are in need of dental care but are not receiving any.

Council leader Andrew Williams called England’s dental system“broken“. He said:

“There are many people who are struggling to find a dentist in the city and that’s not right. We need to highlight just how serious this issue is but sadly it’s not just here it’s around the whole country.”

General manager for Bupa Dental Care, Mark Allen, said last month:

“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.

“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.”