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Boost for NHS dentists

PUBLISHED: 14:13 23 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:26 07 July 2010

More dental patients in several Norfolk “hotspots” including Dereham are to be offered NHS treatment after health bosses have backed plans which could see more dentists opting for the state-run system.

More dental patients in several Norfolk “hotspots” including Dereham are to be offered NHS treatment after health bosses have backed plans which could see more dentists opting for the state-run system.

Under the proposals which were adopted at a Primary Care Trust meeting in Swaffham on Tuesday, existing dentists who had recently gone private can now revert to the NHS.

New dentists can equally apply for contracts in areas identified by the PCT as “hotspots of most need.”

The Times understands that the PCT has invited dentists in Dereham and North Walsham to tender for the extra contracts worth £0.7m, although it is not yet clear how many specialists have been approached by the board.

John Ingham, assistant director of finance explained that around £0.7million was released last year when dentists decided to opt out of their NHS contracts. He said much of the cash was then invested into temporary provision in areas of most need such as Dereham or North Walsham.

“Moving into 2008, and into a new financial year, we decided to look at the possibility of recommissioning permanent services,” he said. “The PCT recently advertised its proposals to put in place more dental contracts in parts of the county and had asked dentists to express an interest.

“We have received a number of interested responses, and all of these dentists will be sent the formal tendering documents and information packs,” said Mr Ingham.

Last night, Mario Gomez, one of the dentists at the Norwich Street Dental Surgery in Dereham who decided to go private in 2007, but then re-considered the possibility of reverting to NHS dentistry, said he had been approached by the PCT which invited his practice to bid for a new contract.

“We do not know at the moment whether we will get anything,” he said. “Previously we had around 6,000 patients on our lists. If we are granted the new contract we will be looking to get a little less than that, perhaps around 4,000 patients. This could be good news for our patients who would be interested to get NHS treatment.”

Meanwhile health bosses also agreed to invest an extra £720,000 in orthodontic services within primary care, after conceding that there had been “unacceptably long waiting times” for this type of treatment.

Mr Ingham said: “We are addressing this situation by investing over £720,000 per year, from April 2008, to help recruit more specialist orthodontists within our primary care services, to help deal with this issue,” he said.

He explained there was also a backlog of patients awaiting treatment through the local acute trust which refers to patients with more complex orthodontic needs than those who would remain within primary care services.

“To help alleviate this, the PCT is working with the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital to identify patients who could receive treatment through a primary care orthodontist. We have put extra provision immediately into our primary service to cope with this. And this will be above and beyond the £720,000 investment.

“The NNUH estimates that around 100 patients might fit into the criteria to be treated outside of the hospital in this way.”

ends

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