Shortage of dentists highlighted

CENTRAL Suffolk has been highlighted as having some of the fewest NHS dentists in the country, a new report has revealed today.The area which stretches from Eye to Hadleigh has just 22 dentists serving 100,000 people.

CENTRAL Suffolk has been highlighted as having some of the fewest NHS dentists in the country, a new report has revealed today.

The area which stretches from Eye to Hadleigh has just 22 dentists serving 100,000 people.

A traffic light system in a new study published in the International Journal of Health Geographics has shown Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust area to be in the red, along with Suffolk Coastal PCT area.

Ipswich was highlighted in orange, one of 80 other PCT areas in the country.


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Central Suffolk was shown to have 0.202 dentists per 1000 population, Suffolk Coastal 0.26 and Ipswich 0.41.

The study showed most areas of England and Wales bathed in red – those areas with less than four dentists per 10,000 people.

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Mary Goode, spokeswoman for Central Suffolk PCT, which will take over responsibility for providing dental care next April, said: "Around 50 per cent of our population are registered with a dentist.

"There is room for improvement but I don't think our population is missing out any more than anywhere else."

She said that because the area was so rural with few towns, there was difficulty in finding places for dentists to set up practices.

The study done by the University of Bath and Guy Picton Phillipps of Brent NHS Primary Care Trust in London has highlighted the nationwide shortage of NHS dentists and also shown the UK to be lagging behind the rest of Europe and the USA.

Ms Goode said that the PCT were keen to take over responsibility of dentists next April so local needs can be looked at and addressed.

She added that many people from the area seem to register with dentists near to where they work such as in Bury St Edmunds or Ipswich.

The researchers said: "Dentists tend to be concentrated in major urban cities and urban areas and away from some of the deprived or less populated urban communities."

They suggested that in the short-term the situation could be remedied by reallocating dentists from areas with a surplus to neighbouring areas with shortages where their traffic light map could prove useful.

The Department of Health said it recognised there were areas in England where access to NHS dentistry could be very difficult and it was committed to increasing capacity.

A spokeswoman said: "We have invested £59million extra to tackle access problems which includes setting up an NHS Denistry Support Team to help the worst affected PCTs get to grips with local access problems.

"There are more dentists now than ever before – there are now over 19,000 dentists providing NHS care compared to 15,411 in 1992."

n. Are you having problems finding an NHS dentist? Write to us at Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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