AT a time when more and more dentists are choosing to operate privately, a Huddersfield dental practice is bucking the trend.
Park View Dental Practice, at Trinity Street, is promoting the fact that it is welcoming new NHS patients, as well as private clients.
The practice was set up in 2002 by two partners.
It now has three partners and nine dentists.
Janice Blackburn, practice manager, said: "There have been quite a few articles saying how difficult it is to get NHS dental treatment in the area. We just want people to know we are taking NHS patients."
Park View is promising that patients needing emergency treatment will be seen within 24 hours.
Its stance is unusual, as many practices now only take on new private patients willing to pay higher fees.
Others are taking on NHS patients, but only a few at a time, with long waiting times for treatment.
Some NHS patients have been shocked when their dentist has chosen to go private - leaving them to pay unsubsidised fees or facing the task of finding a new dentist.
An Examiner study in Nov- ember found only one in five surgeries in Huddersfield was taking new NHS patients.
Also, five practices in the Colne, Holme and Dearne Valleys contacted by the Examiner were found to have NHS patients, but were not accepting new ones. There are a total of 28 practices in these areas.
The shortage of NHS dentists has been blamed on a drop in the number of dentists being trained, a backlash against a Government- imposed contract setting dentists' standards and a 15% cut in fees. As a result, dentists began refusing to accept new NHS patients.
Majid Isham, one of the partners at Park View, said another reason for going private is a reduced workload.
He said: "The workload with the NHS is higher. The average number of patients you see per day is more.
"If you are working on a private basis you can see fewer patients and still sustain a certain income.
"So some dentists who are maybe getting older or want to relax more are going private."
Mr Isham said all dentists at Park View were committed to providing NHS services.
He said: "The average age is 30. We have a youthful practice and we are very NHS orientated."
* The NHS dentist situation can change daily. NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 offers a list.