A North East dentist "can't see a future" for small high street NHS dental practices, 75 years after the creation of the much-loved national institution.

Helen Palmer, owner of Finkle Hill dental practice on the North Yorkshire border, described her struggles trying to combine private and NHS dental care.

She said: "The NHS currently incentivises quick 10-minute appointments which is not how we deliver care.

"We are losing hundreds of dentists a year through NHS work.

"It's an impossible system to work with from a small high street business perspective.

"About ten per cent of our income is provided by the NHS to cover half of our patients.

"Ninety per cent of our income comes through private care.

"We were trying to make it work but we were paying too much.

"With everything going on at the moment with inflation what the NHS pay just doesn't keep pace at all."

Mrs Palmer explained that after years of balancing private and NHS care the situation became impossible.

Looking ahead she struggles to see how the current deal could sustain smaller dental practices.

She added: "It's pretty bleak for NHS dentistry. It's not caused by Covid, it's caused by the contract that was put in place around 2010.

"If you have a bigger contract it could work and there are large NHS practices around.

"I just can't see a future for small high street practices long term.

"It's very worrying."

Earlier this year Bupa Dental Care, which provides private and NHS care, announced that 85 of its centres would be closing.

They pointed to the NHS contract model and the damage done to the nation's teeth through lack of dental care in the pandemic.

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The provider also highlighted difficulties in recruiting enough dentists to provide NHS care.

General manager for Bupa Dental Care, Mark Allan, said: "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."