A dentist in Fakenham said the current state of her industry had made her fall in love with her job.
Teresa Kleinhans works at the Wensum dental practice in Fakenham. Ms Kleinhans recently decided to go private after her associate dentist gave her notice of work at another private practice.
The news angered members of the community, prompting the 54-year-old to defend her decision on Facebook.
She said the state of dentistry since last June had made her fall in love with her job.
“I hope people can understand that I care about my patients and want to do my best for them, but I also need to care about myself,” she said.
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“I always said I loved my job and wanted to work until I died, but I can’t work that way.”
Ms Kleinhans qualified in 1994 and has worked at the Fakenham firm for 15 years.
She said there are currently a range of issues within the industry, from a shortage of dentists to a huge backlog of patients due to the pandemic. Practice hours have skyrocketed, most working five days a week, with wall-to-wall patients.
The dentist also said there are unrealistic NHS targets which, if she does not meet them, will result in financial penalties.
She wants to reassure people that the move to private practice means that she will still be able to provide affordable dental care.
But, she said, this newfound freedom will allow her to dictate her own hours and the freedom to choose what she believes is the best treatment.
“I feel bad for my patients, I feel bad for dentists and everyone who works in the NHS,” she said.
Ms Kleinhans said she would continue to provide NHS treatment in the Norwich Street cabinet until November 1.
Nothing will change until then as she still has treatment to complete and goals to achieve by then.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Affairs said: “We are committed to supporting the dental sector throughout this unprecedented pandemic so that everyone across the country can access affordable and affordable dental care. High quality.
“All dental offices have been able to provide their full range of face-to-face care since last June, with over 600 offices providing additional support for urgent dental treatment.