FUNDING has been pledged to ensure patients can still see an NHS dentist in Richmondshire, following the announced closure of a dental practice in the area.

There were fears that people living in Richmond and Catterick would have to travel to Darlington or Teesside to sign up with an NHS dentist after it was announced My Dentist practices in Richmond Market Place and Hildyard Row in Catterick will close later this year.

But now there has been a break-through, after Richmond MP Rishi Sunak held talks with NHS England dentistry chiefs. As a result of the meeting, a pledge was secured that funding currently used to pay for NHS services at My Dentist in Catterick and Richmond would not be lost and instead transferred to other dentists nearby.

Alpha Dental Studio in Catterick has already announced it is now able to take new NHS patients on a waiting list.

There are also hopes of additional funding in the future for NHS dental services in the area.

Mr Sunak said: "I am aware the announcement about the closure of the My Dentist practices has caused concern for existing NHS patients using those practices but also those who wish to register for the first time.

"So was I very pleased that NHS England Yorkshire and Humber will maintain our local funding levels and have approached other practices in the Garrison and Richmond with a view to them taking on the work."

Mr Sunak was told the NHS was confident it could have replacement services up and running before My Dentist closed its doors in April if other providers could provide the necessary capacity.

He added that a review of NHS dentistry provision in Yorkshire was underway and he was currently pressing the NHS to make available incremental funding to further bolster dental services in the area.

"My first priority was to make sure the funding for NHS dental services in Richmond and Catterick Garrison was retained and that has been secured," he said.

"The review of NHS contracts is an opportunity to gain additional funding for services in this area and I have already started making a strong case for that."

My Dentist announced they were due to close on April 1, with emergency treatment being passed to neighbouring practices.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Jim Clark, chair of the Scrutiny of Health Committee said recently there was a shortage of dentists throughout the county.