‘It’s a no for now’ – parliament to debate plans for new dental school

Plans for new university dental school reach ParliamentMembers of Parliament will debate plans for a new dental school amidst concerns over treatment accessibility.

Earmarked for the University of East Anglia, the dental school proposals were laid out in July, with the goal of attracting and training newly-qualified dentists.

Now, MP Jerome Mayhew will debate the plans in parliament tomorrow (18 October), arguing that it will improve the availability of local dentists.

Boost numbers

He said it could help the area reflect national average figure of 54 dentists per 100,000 people, reports the BBC.

This comes as the new Minister for Dentistry, Will Quince, responded to fresh calls for the plans to go ahead with: ‘It’s a no for now.’

Suffolk and East Anglia have been hit particularly bad by access issues affecting NHS dentistry. Last year, campaign group Toothless in Suffolk began to push for an ‘NHS dentist for everyone’ after the closure of two NHS practices in Leiston.

Currently, the nearest dental schools to Suffolk are London and Birmingham.

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Key features

If it goes ahead, the school has three key components:

  • The formation of a centre for dental development
  • The development of clinical simulation and treatment facilities. These will support the education and training of undergraduate students in dental therapy and hygiene. It also supports apprentice dental technicians and postgraduate dentists
  • The development of a dental social enterprise offering NHS dental treatment.

However, many have suggested a new dental school is not the answer to the current access troubles.

One user wrote on Twitter: ‘Dental schools don’t solve the problem of service delivery. Their primary function is education. National recruitment post-qualifying then sends new graduates and young dentists away from areas where they trained.’

Dentist Iain Mills wrote: ‘Peninsula Dental School has brought a significant number of benefits to Devon & Cornwall, but access is still a huge problem. Recruitment & retention is a complex issue & a new dental school is not the solution without addressing many other factors – principally the NHS Contract’.

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