'Game changer' project aims to address NHS dentist shortage in Suffolk

A new dentist centre will be open at the University of Suffolk

A new dentist centre will be open at the University of Suffolk - Credit: PA

A new dental project, which has been described as a "game changer", will aim to bring more NHS dentists to Suffolk. 

A new centre will be developed at the University of Suffolk where dentists will be trained and will also provide treatment on the NHS. 

It comes at a time when people are struggling to access NHS dental care, even pulling their own teeth out, with the formation of the Toothless in Suffolk campaign group to fight for better care.

The new project will see the formation of a centre for dental development on the University's campus in Ipswich. 

The centre will be run as a social dental enterprise in order to attract and train newly-qualified dentists to work within the dental facility to supply additional, much-needed, NHS dental provision across Suffolk. 

The plan has the backing of Suffolk 's MPs, in particular Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds, who said: "After being involved in months of discussion with the Chief Dental Officer, the ICB and academia, I am delighted to see progress on our commitment to build dental capacity in Suffolk.

"This 10-year strategic project realised by the shared resolve of the University of Suffolk, in partnership with regional dentists, HEE, NHSE will start to address the oral health of our population.”

Professor Helen Langton, vice-chancellor at the University of Suffolk, said: “This plan will be a game changer in terms of future dental health provision in Suffolk and East Anglia.

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"The University of Suffolk, in partnership with the Integrated Care Board, our region’s MPs and NHS dentists, is determined to provide workforce solutions to the present oral health crisis.

“This will provide changes in the types of workforce and what the current workforce can do by offering a more modern training integrated with wider health care, hence we will offer a new model of dental care, a new model of organising care and a new model of workforce.”

Dr Ed Garratt, chief executive, NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, said: “This is an incredibly positive step forward.

“Improving dental workforce and provision is a priority for the new NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, which will take on dental commissioning responsibility from April 2023.

“We know that poor oral health adversely affects physical and mental health. It’s also so important our children get a good start in life with regular dental check-ups to help them develop strong and healthy teeth into adulthood."