Campaigners are claiming a victory for people power after NHS England bosses have ruled a village’s dental surgery is to stay put.
People in Thornton lobbied hard to stop the practice in Market Street moving more than two miles out of the village to go under the same roof as its new owners – Allerton Dental Practice.
A consultation was held and the response to the “extraction” was a big no, said Melanie Milnes, of Thornton Community Partnership.
“We are overjoyed the practice won’t be moving away from the village. It would have meant getting two buses for a lot of people, it just wouldn’t have been easy to access for many of us,” she said.
“The Allerton practice did do a consultation. They sent out about 500 letters and there were meetings. People didn’t want to lose their dentists – they wrote letters, there were petitions, people were contacting the community partnership about it.
“The practice was always very open about the transfer requests and were transparent, but it’s a really good outcome that we’ve managed to maintain a service in the heart of our village. It’s been a victory for people power and team work, different individuals, representatives and groups coming together for the same cause.”
Although NHS England refused to allow the move to Allerton, it did not rule out a move to another premises as long as it is still in Thornton.
Mrs Milnes said: “At the moment the practice is in a converted cottage and no doubt there will be a time when it will have to look for somewhere bigger because of demand for its services – that’s something we understand completely.”
Councillor Malcolm Sykes (Con, Thornton and Allerton), however, questioned the way the consultation had been carried out.
He said: “The practice had undertaken a consultation process with selected residents, which clearly the NHS felt was utterly unrepresentative of the views of the majority of the patients, a point among many, which I made to the NHS before the application was determined.”
A spokesman for NHS England, West Yorkshire said: “NHS England received an application to relocate Thornton Dental Practice to Allerton Dental Practice.
“It assessed this against criteria used for all relocation applications, such as distance between sites, current dental provision in the areas and patient flows. The decision not to approve this relocation was based on these principles.”
But the spokesman added: “NHS England would consider supporting a practice move within the Thornton area if suitable premises could be found.”