NHS Shetland is to take over the St Olaf Street dental practice after Alan Owen retires in September, it was announced yesterday.
Patients registered with the practice will be offered ongoing NHS treatment and care, a statement released by the health authority said.
Staff at the business, run by Mr Owen, will be given the chance to transfer to the NHS-salaried service in time for the changeover. Ongoing talks are taking place with staff members in the hope they will remain with the practice.
Aside from Mr Owen and his wife, practice manager Michelle Owen, the business has two other self-employed dentists, as well as a dental hygienist and dental nurses.
NHS Shetland’s newly appointed dental director Pippa Arbon – who has just taken over from long-serving chief administrative dental officer Mike Collins – will be on hand to ensure as smooth a transition as possible, the authority said.
The news will come as a relief to thousands of patients worried about the prospect of losing their dentist after news of Mr Owen’s pending retirement emerged.
A Swedish couple, both dentists, had been interested in buying the practice, but a deal failed to materialise.
Chief executive of NHS Shetland Ralph Roberts said: “I know that patients have been anxious about their dental care after Mr Owen retires, and I am pleased that we will be able to continue to provide a service for those patients.”
Director of clinical services Simon Bokor-Ingram said: “We are having discussions with staff. Obviously we are keen to retain the dentists we have here in Shetland.”
Mrs Owen said she welcomed the news. “We’re absolutely delighted our patients are going to be offered ongoing care.”