The University of East Anglia has welcomed the Government’s Dental Recovery Plan which affirms a new commitment to provide additional NHS dental services.
The Plan, launched today, includes a commitment to more training places “in a way that is targeted to improve provision in areas of the country where it is most needed.” It commits to exploring “the creation of new dental schools in currently under-served parts of the country.”
Prof David Maguire, Vice-Chancellor at the University of East Anglia, said: “We are pleased that the Government’s Dental Recovery Plan includes the opportunity for new dental schools in England to provide the next generation of dentists. We will continue to press the Government to allocate new undergraduate dental places to those areas, like Norfolk, where the NHS dental access need is most acute and where a new dental school can have the greatest impact.
“Within the next couple of years, UEA and our partners could play a crucial role in delivering, and maintaining in the long-term, much needed NHS dental services to the people of East Anglia.”
The Norwich Centre for Dental Development, established at UEA last year, is the first step towards launching a formal bid for an undergraduate Dental School at UEA. Alongside the Norwich Medical School, it brings together local partners, including the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and the Quadram Institute, which specialises in food and health research (including digestive health). UEA will seek to collaborate with further education providers and other universities in the East to provide the range of dental skills that are in such short supply throughout our region.
UEA is about to start work on a new, state-of-the-art Anatomy Suite, located opposite the NNUH, to support practical anatomical teaching for medical and allied health profession students. If the Government allows UEA to offer undergraduate dental training, these plans could be extended to include capacity for a new Dental School by 2025.
Dr Bernard Brett, Interim Medical Director at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “We have worked collaboratively with UEA for more than 20 years developing successive generations of skilled health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. We fully support UEA’s plans for a dental school which will bring benefits for our local population and will complement the high quality teaching and education programmes being delivered by the University and the Hospital.”
Professor Ian Charles, Director of the Quadram Institute, said: “We fully support a school of dentistry at UEA and there can be no doubting the community need for better access to dental care. A school of dentistry also offers significant opportunities for scientists here on the Norwich Research Park to use their expertise to undertake research into the oral microbiome to better understand its role in human health. “
Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk, said: “I am in full support of a dentistry school at the UEA to combine medical training in one of the best universities in the UK. As the son of an NHS dentist, I know two of the fundamental reasons we struggle to get dentists into Norfolk. Firstly, it is due to our rural location and that presents difficulty in enticing young dentists to want to work in our area. But more than anything, it is the lack of a dentistry training school. The nearest are in London or Birmingham. We know that vast quantities of students that study at the UEA then stay locally in the area, as they fall in love with Norfolk. If we had a world class dentistry school at the UEA, we know newly qualified dentists would undoubtedly then practice in the area. Within a very short period we would transform dentistry provision in Norfolk.”
Rt Hon Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North and UEA Honorary Fellow, said: “We urgently need more dentists in Norwich and the wider region. This is a top priority for residents, and will only increase with more homes to be built to the north of Norwich. UEA is ideally placed to help make this a reality, with an obvious vehicle in the new Anatomy Suite, and a strong civic track record. I urge the Government to confirm new dental undergraduate places that would allow us to get on with the job. It cannot wait any longer.”
Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, said: “I took my constituents' concerns about failing local dental services to the top at Prime Minister's Questions. I have repeatedly raised the alarm about dentistry approaching a breaking point in our city. We need more dentists, and we need them as quickly as possible, so I fully support UEA's proposal for a Norwich Dental School admitting students as soon as possible.”
Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland, said: “The Government recognises that we need to train more dentists in the UK as part of its Long Term Workforce Plan for the NHS. But it is not just the overall numbers that are important. We need a geographical spread of dentists to make sure that we tackle areas where there are few dentists, the dental deserts. If you grow up in Norfolk the nearest place you can train to be a dentist is Birmingham, so it is hardly surprising that we have fewer dentists than any other part of the country. The UEA is ready to provide undergraduate dental training to support the post graduate dental training at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Norfolk needs this school to be part of the plan to improve dental provision in the East of England.”
George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, said: “Access to dental care is the most common issue raised in my Mid Norfolk casework and correspondence in-tray. It is vital that everyone can access the support they need. While the announcement of a new Dental Development Centre at UEA was a very positive step indeed, if we are serious about properly gripping the issues being faced, we must go further and ensure we train more dentists – and train them locally.
“That’s why I continue to work hard with my fellow Norfolk MPs, UEA and other local partners to make the strongest possible case to Government for the establishment of a full undergraduate School of Dentistry in Norwich – so that we can urgently get to work on developing the next generation of Norfolk dentists.”
James Wild, MP for North West Norfolk, said: “Getting better access to dentists for my North West Norfolk constituents is an issue I have campaigned on repeatedly and new measures in the recovery plan will help. As part of longer-term action, I support plans which are well developed for undergraduate training places at UEA. This would help address a lack of training locally and complement the planned provision of dental apprenticeships at the College of West Anglia.”
Rt Hon Liz Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, said: "It is essential that the Government’s Dentistry Recovery Plan addresses the lack of available dental services in Norfolk, which is an issue raised by my constituents in South West Norfolk on an all too regular basis. The UEA is proposing the establishment of a new Norwich dental school with undergraduate training places allocated within a few years – something which would be a boon for the county and deserves serious consideration."
Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, said: “I strongly support the UEA’s ambition to establish a Norwich Dental School, which is a vital component in the strategy to provide proper dental services across Norfolk and the eastern region. The Government’s dental recovery plan has already taken too long to deliver and ministers need to get a move on.
“Following extensive campaigning in Parliament, ministers can be in no doubt about the urgency of delivering a local long-term solution for dentistry that actually works – and this necessarily includes establishing local dental education to improve the supply of trained dentists who choose to stay in East Anglia after qualification. We need to see a Norwich Dental School as soon as possible and the UEA must have the confidence to do what is right for the region. For its part, the Government must set a date by which the UEA will be able to start offering dental undergraduate places. We have been waiting far too long already. It is time for the Government to act.”
Rt. Hon Sir Brandon Lewis CBE, MP for Great Yarmouth, said: “Great Yarmouth and Norfolk needs much improved dentistry provision. I fully support efforts to increase the expansion of dentistry training to UEA, as it is clearly a logical step towards expanding and improving access to this vital service.”