A Worcester dentist’s future hangs in the balance after a national firm announced cuts.

Bupa Dental Care has announced it is to close, merge or sell 85 practices in the UK.

Included in that list is the city centre branch, on St Mary’s Street.

The healthcare provider has confirmed that they are looking for a new owner for the practice.

A spokesperson said: “We have taken the very difficult decision to seek an alternative owner for the practice due to the shortage of dentists to deliver NHS care.

“We are optimistic that a local provider can be found to continue access to dental services in the local community.”

READ MORE: Bupa Dental Care to cut 85 dental practices - see the full list of closures

Mark Allan, general manager for Bupa Dental Care, added: “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.”

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The decision to cut 85 practices was made due to the lack of dentists available to deliver NHS care, as well as increased running costs caused by inflation and rising energy prices.

Despite investment by Bupa Dental Care, the firm has been unable to recruit enough dentists.

As such, many practices have been without NHS care for months, and in some cases years.

Bupa says this is the result of the NHS contract model, increased demand and the complexities created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Worcester News: All 450 UK Bupa Dental Care practices remain open for the time beingAll 450 UK Bupa Dental Care practices remain open for the time being (Image: PA)

Mr Allan added: “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.

“This decision enables us to focus our efforts on high-quality, continued sustainable care for patients across our wider portfolio.” 

For the time being, the Worcester branch, and all 450 Bupa Dental Care practices in the UK, remains open.

Any changes will take place later this year and Bupa will be in touch with patients to explain how they will be affected.