CORNWALL Primary Care Trust (PCT) has been accused of blocking attempts to reopen an NHS dentist in Constantine, leaving thousands of patients in limbo.
The practice closed to NHS patients in July when it went into receivership and the previous dentist, Dr Behnedjad, resigned the contract.
But a request by a new partner for the patient list was refused by the PCT, which blamed national rules preventing any transfer of contracts between dental providers.
However, Dr Tim Zorab, who owned the practice until 2006 when he sold to Dr Behnedjad, said he transferred his list with no problems.
"I think they have had their fingers burnt and want to wash their hands of this practice," he said.
Geoffrey Trebilcock, who owns the building and helped set up the practice nearly 30 years ago, said: "The PCT is pushing everyone in the village into having to travel and is not keen to carry on with what has been here for nearly 30 years."
The parish council and local Cornwall councillor Neil Hatton have given their support to the practice and have written letters to the PCT asking for it to reconsider.
They have also criticised it for saying the surgery is closed, when in fact the private list is still run by Dr Zorab.
"The practice needs the support of the PCT rather than the obstructions it is currently placing in its path," the council wrote.
"It is unreasonable to expect existing patients, many of whom are elderly or short of money, to undertake long journeys to practices.
"There is no sensible reason why the PCT should not continue to support the inhabitants of the village and surrounding area by funding treatment under the NHS scheme."
In a statement the PCT said all patients have been contacted to ensure they "are on the waiting list to be accommodated at practices in towns of their choice, including Falmouth, Penryn, Truro, Redruth, where there is existing NHS capacity".
"Unfortunately national rules prevent us from transferring contracts, so to replace any resigned contracts the PCT has to go out to procurement which takes time.
"The PCT is being abolished in the near future and is currently developing a strategy to address gaps in the service provision."