Suffolk patients will benefit from an additional 18,000 hours of NHS-only dental appointments per year thanks to a soon-to-be-opened dental clinic.

Ten fully-equipped dental surgery units in the University of Suffolk’s James Hehir building on the Ipswich Waterfront are set to be launched at the end of the year.

The University of Suffolk Dental Community Interest Company will deliver the new NHS Primary Care Dentistry supporting Dental Workforce Training and Education contract with a total budget of £2.2 million a year over an initial five-year term.  

The new service will also provide a teaching environment for student dental hygienists and therapists at the university and will offer placements for local dental nurses, dental therapists, and hygienists who have recently qualified or are currently in training.  

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Lizzie Mapplebeck, associate director of strategic change, SNEE ICB, said: "This announcement is not a quick fix for all the problems in NHS dental provision. There is no quick fix. 

"However, we are working to expand the service as quickly as possible, while ensuring the highest standards of patient safety. We ask the public to please bear with us as we establish this new NHS dental provision."

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Ipswich Star: Andy Yacoub, CEO Healthwatch Suffolk, Gregg BrownAndy Yacoub, CEO Healthwatch Suffolk, Gregg Brown (Image: Gregg Brown)

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, added: "Difficulty accessing NHS dentistry has been an enduring and critical health issue for people of all ages, across the whole of Suffolk, since April 2020. 

"This new and unique treatment, training and academic social enterprise, is therefore a welcome investment from NHS leaders locally.

"With the right outcomes in mind, it will hopefully allow for additional much needed appointments, particularly for our more vulnerable communities, from across east and west Suffolk and north east Essex.

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"This initiative will not fully address gaps in the provision for all Suffolk residents, but it is a positive local development in NHS dental care, and an important action to address inequality in NHS service access."

People are asked to please avoid contacting the university to book an appointment until further details become available.