The landlords of the Church Hill dental practice building have issued a statement after they were contacted by angry patients over the closure of the service.
Carol and Mike Deer say people believe the practice is shutting on March 31, 2018, because the rent has been raised too high for the NHS Trust to operate in the building.
This month The Isle of Thanet News revealed that Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, which commissions dental services, would not be renewing the Church Hill contract when it ends next March.
Around 8,000 people on the books now need to find a new dentist.
Some patients contacted Mr and Mrs Deer through the website for their Micro Museum business with the accusations of the rent hike.
The couple have now issued a statement to say the rent was not raised, and in fact has been frozen at the level they were charging in 2006.
The statement says: “We negotiated a second lease with the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust just last year, with terms and rent to suit the tenants. Because we wanted to keep the Trust as our tenants and to keep the dental surgery open, we deliberately kept the rent low – in fact at the same rent as when ADP were operating a dental practice there in 2006.
“The terms of the lease were such that the Trust could have stayed in the building until the Autumn of 2021, if they wished to apply for and were granted the renewed NHS contract.
“The general public may not understand that the lease is not with the NHS but is with the KCHFT and that the Trust is responsible for paying the agreed rent.
“The Trust decided not to apply for renewal of their contract with the NHS and eventually served notice to us, as their landlords, that they will break the lease with effect from 31 March next year. In fact, we first learned about their decision from a newspaper report because they did not formally contact us until after the patients began receiving the news at the surgery!
“The decision to close the dental surgery on Church Hill was not made by us as the landlords or by the NHS, but by the Trust themselves. Any further questions about the closure should be addressed to Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust.”
Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust says it is working to find alternative dentist care for patients.
Dental Services Clinical Director for East Kent Michelle Forbes said: “We were commissioned to provide dental services at Churchill Dental Practice by NHS England and we will continue to do this until 31 March 2018 – the end of our five-year contract.
“We are working with NHS England to make sure patients have alternative local provision. We will, of course, continue to provide safe and effective care for all patients using our service at Church Hill dental practice until the end of March.
“We are a large dental organisation and we will do our very best to redeploy our colleagues who work at the practice.’’
Patients can call the NHS dental care helpline on 0300 123 4412 for a list of Thanet dentists or click here