Dental campaigners 'disappointed' with outcome of NHS meeting

Steve Marsling Co coordinator of toothless in Suffolk. Dentaid has come to Leiston to give free dent

Steve Marsling, co-cordinator of Toothless in Suffolk, with the Dentaid surgery that visited Leiston last week - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Campaigners fighting for new dental practices were disappointed with the outcome of a meeting with NHS commissioners. 

Representatives from Toothless in Suffolk were hopeful of securing support for an NHS outlet in Leiston during the meeting on Friday. 

However, Steve Marsling, the group’s co-coordinator, said although the commissioners said they hoped to have a new practice in place in the town by the summer, he was not expecting to see any action before 2023. 

He believed there was little interest in providing new practices in rural and coastal communities because there was little financial incentive. 

“What we are saying is that as well as considering value for money, they should also consider need, but that does not seem to fare very well with them,” Mr Marsling said. 

He said the current NHS contract did not incentivise staff to work ‘8am to 8pm, 365 days a year’ and needed to change to provide dentists with better pay. 

“The meeting was short and sweet and they said they are going to get something for Leiston, but I doubt it will be this year,” he added. 

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Earlier this week, NHS England and NHS Improvement announced plans for new practices in Norwich, King’s Lynn and Lowestoft, but not Leiston, which has not had a dentist since April last year. 

On Thursday, the campaigners travelled to the Houses of Parliament where MPs were discussing solutions to the dental crisis and they met Waveney MP Peter Aldous. 

Waveney MP Peter Aldous

Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who met with campaigners from Toothless in Suffolk - Credit: Archant

Mr Aldous said he was pleased with how the meeting went with Government representatives, including health minister Maria Caulfield, adding there was a recognition of the need for more funding for dental care, as well as preventive measures such as the fluoridation of drinking water to prevent tooth decay. 

“The need for contract reform came out very strongly. That was something that Toothless in Suffolk made clear and I think we got a satisfactory response from the minister Maria Caulfield that the Government is committed to reforming the contract and are beginning formal negotiations in April with the British Dental Association,” he added. 

Last week, charity Dentaid provided a mobile surgery at the Waterloo Centre in Leiston to treat people experiencing severe pain because they couldn’t find a dentist.