Leiston fails to secure dental deal in latest announcement
- Credit: PA
New NHS dental contracts have been awarded across East Anglia, but Leiston's vacancy was not filled meaning the town is approaching a year without a dental surgery.
In April last year, mydentist Leiston closed down due to a lack of dentists.
NHS England and NHS Improvement announced deals for practices in Norwich and King's Lynn as well as Lowestoft but Leiston remains unfilled.
The contract would have expected a service to open in July and run for a period of 4 years and 9 months, while being open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
Aldeburgh and Leiston district councillor Russ Rainger has been heavily involved in the topic, even helping organise the Dentaid van that visited the town last week to help people with severe dental pain who couldn't find a dentist.
"It's disappointing that we had to get to that point," said Cllr Rainger. "We know there are plenty of people who need the support, but it's hard to make it enticing.
"It does rely on someone wanting to open a practice. It's down to the individual, if there isn't a dentist who wants to open a shop in the area it's very difficult to make them open a shop.
"There's irons in the fire, I think there's some opportunities. I remain optimistic and I think there's good news coming."
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Mark Jones from campaign group Toothless in England said it was "very disappointing" that Leiston would not be getting a dentist any time soon.
He added: "We are meeting with the head of commissioning David Barter tomorrow morning and will be asking him as to why he's reneged on promises that we were offered, that Leiston won't be getting a dentist after not having one for over a year."
In a column for East Suffolk Extra, Therese Coffey MP said: "The lack of NHS dental provision has become an increasing issue here in East Suffolk, especially in Leiston with some people telling me they have had to travel as far away as Colchester or Lowestoft to get an appointment.
"I’ve been constantly pressing the case on behalf of patients, lobbying Ministers and NHS bosses. I’m really pleased, therefore, that an additional £50m has now been made available to boost capacity in NHS dentistry."
She added she has already written to local NHS Commissioners encouraging them to make an urgent bid for their share of the money.