New NHS dentist surgery gets go-ahead

DENTAL patients in Suffolk have today been given something to smile about as the go-ahead was given to open a new NHS dentist surgery.A bid to open a surgery at Cedars Park, Stowmarket, was given the thumbs up by councillors yesterday .

DENTAL patients in Suffolk have today been given something to smile about as the go-ahead was given to open a new NHS dentist surgery.

A bid to open a surgery at Cedars Park, Stowmarket, was given the thumbs up by councillors yesterday .

Mid Suffolk district councillors said there was an "urgent need" for more dentists in the town and accepted the application despite recommendations it be turned down.

Experts had told the council the surgery would not employ enough people to make good use of the building space which had been specially designated for employment purposes.


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But planning committee members unanimously agreed the dentist would be an asset to the town and gave the plans the green light.

Ray Melvin, chairman of the planning committee said: "The general feeling was that there was that we should pass this application.

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"There had already been an application to use it as a doctors surgery and there isn't a huge difference with this.

"It was realised that this sort of infrastructure is needed, a high number of new residents will need a dentist and it is getting increasingly difficult to find an NHS surgery."

The new surgery will include three clinic rooms, an office and reception, staff room, store, x-ray room and waiting area. It will employ two full-time and two part-time staff.

The applicant is Peter Barter, a retired dentist from Norfolk who has spent the last four years helping NHS dentists set up in the area.

He said he was delighted with the decision.

"It is an excellent decision for all of us," he said.

"The committee overturned the officer's recommendation and it is common sense that they did.

"It is absolutely brilliant to see common sense prevailing."

The surgery is expected to open for business in October, after work due to cost £100,000 to get it ready for patients.

A recent report by the Department of Health predicted the national shortfall in NHS dentists is set to more than double by 2011.

In England alone in 2003 there was a shortage of 1,850 dentists, and this could rise to between 3,640 and 5,100 it said.

The British Dental Association said there was no doubt that the supply of dentists had reached crisis point.

The report by the Primary Care Dental Workforce Review, was the first review of the dental workforce since 1987.

The report's publication follows the government's announcement last week to recruit an extra 1,000 by October 2005.

Last summer, in Camarthen, Wales, residents lined the high street as they waited to get on the books of a new dentist.

Figures show less than half of adults in England are registered with an NHS dentist.

In some areas, the figure is even lower with just one in five turning to the NHS for dental treatment.

Opinion - see page 4.

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