Could it be next summer before Suffolk gets more NHS dentists?
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/ Sarah Lucy Brown
Campaigners in Suffolk say that the county's dental problems are not being treated as an 'emergency' by the NHS.
Members of the Toothless in Suffolk campaign met with NHS East of England’s head of commissioning David Barter and his team on Monday to discuss the dentistry issues facing the county.
The NHS is hoping that new dental services could be up and running in Suffolk in July 2022 as part of a bid to improve the availability of appointments.
Leiston has been one of the worst affected areas in Suffolk after losing two dental practices in the space of 18 months forcing patients looking for NHS services as far away as north Essex for treatment.
Toothless in Suffolk have been campaigning for change for the past few months, gathering support at events across the county.
Steve Marsling from the group said that the meeting with the NHS had not brought the results they had hoped for.
"We cannot wait until July," said Mr Marsling.
"We can't get them to say it's an emergency.
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"It's simply not good enough."
He said that the group were speaking to a charity, Dentaid, in order to see if they could get emergency provision out to parts of the county but said it wasn't clear who would be paying for it.
In the meantime, Mr Marsling said he was concerned about the numbers of people who would still be needing treatment until July.
"What the backlog is going to be like then I don't know," he said.
An NHS spokesperson in the East of England, said: “We are committed to ensuring everyone can access high quality dental care, and we are working closely with dental providers to improve access to services; we are pleased to currently be in the process of procuring new dental services for Norfolk and Suffolk which will provide new services for adults and children operating from 8am-8pm, 7 days a week for routine as well as urgent appointments.
“Urgent and emergency dental care is available for those who need it, and people should continue to use the NHS 111 service for advice on where to go.”