Campaigners win NHS dentist battle

CAMPAIGNERS for a new NHS dentist in a market town have won their battle it can be revealed.

CAMPAIGNERS for a new NHS dentist in a market town have won their battle it can be revealed.

Some Stowmarket residents were being forced to go without dental treatment if they could not afford private care because there were not enough NHS dentists in the town.

But now a new dentist will start work alongside Dr Ayse Pekel who offers NHS treatment at the surgery in Station Road, Stowmarket.

Last year her practice has had to close its doors to new patients before it even opened for business after being flooded with more than 2,000 new clients in just three weeks from as far afield as Cambridgeshire.

John Matthissen, a parish councillor at Great Finborough and a mid Suffolk district councillor, was among those fighting for greater National Health Service dentistry within the community.

He said: “Our campaign through 2006 into 2007 showed that there was very large unmet need, which was why we campaigned for two dentists.

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“We were disappointed that did not happen initially, but are now very happy that the practice will expand to two, and far fewer people will have to travel to Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds.

“Residents cherish their health service dentist and a lot of families cannot afford private dentistry, it is expensive. The choice is NHS or nothing, which is very bad for their health generally, not just their teeth. This is excellent news.”

Richard Ward, consultant in dental public health with NHS Suffolk, said: “We are investing heavily in dental services across the county, and have earmarked extra funding for an additional dentist at the Station View practice in Stowmarket.

“This extra funding will be used to increase the number of patients who can be treated at the surgery and comes following our commitment to invest £1.3 million in improving access to general dental services during 2008/09.

“We have been working hard to identify gaps in provision and are confident that this extra funding will help to ensure even more people in Stowmarket are able to access an NHS dentist, which is one of our key priorities.”

About 1,200 people in the town and neighbouring villages signed a petition calling for greater provision in the area last year.

Plans for the new dentist are at an early stage and once more detail is available, patients will be informed of when he or she will be starting work.