NHS dentist shortage 'will be tackled'

HEALTH professionals say they are determined to tackle the shortage of dentists doing NHS work – after one part of Suffolk was found to be among the worst for providing the service.

By John Howard

HEALTH professionals say they are determined to tackle the shortage of dentists doing NHS work – after one part of Suffolk was found to be among the worst for providing the service.

Central Suffolk has just 22 dentists doing NHS work for 100,000 residents, leaving many having to travel to receive the treatment in other parts of the county.

Mary Goode, head of corporate affairs with the responsibility for dentistry at the Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust, said she was surprised by the figures.


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She said NHS dentistry was currently a Government responsibility, but from April next year PCTs take over the responsibility and funding.

She said at that stage they can take action, and they are hopeful innovative new measures to tackle the problem can be put in to place.

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They could include mobile dentists visiting isolated communities.

She said: “We have not lost any of our dentists, we just did not have many to start with. It's the fact we are a rural area, you just do not find the dentists in the middle of villages, that's part of it.

“There is also a greater need for more dentists, this is a national problem. I can understand people's difficulties trying to get an NHS dentist, what is happening is that a lot of people are accessing the dentists where they are working, in Ipswich or Bury St Edmunds.

“I am surprised we are one of the worst, I knew it was not good in central Suffolk, but did not realise we were among the worst.''

According to the figures, published in the International Journal of Health Geographics, central Suffolk has just 0.20 NHS dentists per 1,000 people, making it among the worst five in the country.

The report suggested an extra 5,250 dentists may be needed in England and Wales to meet barely adequate levels of NHS provision.

The Government has been trying to tackle shortages which have led to queues of people waiting to register with NHS dentists.

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