Filling the NHS gap
AN NHS dental surgery looks set to open in Royston. Dentist Robert Ayre hopes to have a surgery in Market Hill up and running within two months. He has taken over the vacant old schoolhouse building, and is having it converted. The initial plan is to open
AN NHS dental surgery looks set to open in Royston. Dentist Robert Ayre hopes to have a surgery in Market Hill up and running within two months. He has taken over the vacant old schoolhouse building, and is having it converted. The initial plan is to open two surgeries at the site. Mr Ayre told The Crow: "We've always been aware that there is the need for more NHS dental facilities in Royston. "We've been frustrated in the past - now we are delighted to be going forward." Mr Ayre currently operates from Royston Health Centre. However, there is space there for only one surgery. Once the Market Hill practice is operating, he hopes to open a further two surgeries at the site, totalling four. "We want to be able to double the number of patients we see currently, increasing the number to about 7,500," he said. A number of applications to open NHS dental surgeries in Royston have been put forward in recent years, but have been rejected at the planning stage. Mr Ayre originally had plans to convert a building in Barkway Road into a dental surgery in 2001, but this proposal was rejected after falling foul of planners. He said: "We've been looking for the last six or seven years for somewhere with planning permission and this is the only one which has come up. "There's no planning change of use needed, so as far as the planning office is concerned, it shouldn't be an issue." North Herts District Councillors Bill Davidson and Fiona Hill have been pushing for more NHS dental practices in Royston. Cllr Hill said: "I'm delighted to see that progress is being made, and I think the situation regarding dentists for the last few years in Royston has been appalling. "This is through no fault of the current dentists." Cllr Davidson said: "It's a good thing for Royston and district, and I support this 100 per cent. "It is part of the infrastructure which should have been put in place years ago." Mr Ayre said he was not yet taking registration for the Market Hill practice. "We are hoping to take registration for the practice within the next six weeks - we will notify the public when we do so," he said. When registration begins, priority will be given to children who are already registered patients with the NHS. Until the new dental surgery opens, Mr Ayre will continue to operate from Royston Health Centre. "We planned on being here only six months, but we've been here six years now," he said. "We are very grateful for the support the staff at the health centre have given us over the years. They have been very tolerant and supportive. "We have all done our best under very trying circumstances.