Local MPs throw weight behind plans for new dental school in East Anglia

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Local MPs have thrown their weight behind plans for a new dental school in East Anglia.

Recently, MPs met with NHS bosses, representatives from the University of East Anglia and government health minister, Maria Caulfield, to discuss proposals for a dental school to be created at the university. It is very early days, but reports suggest that the talks were productive and Ms Caulfield has agreed to meet with Health Education England to discuss the proposals in further detail. If the plans get the go ahead, the university will become the first in the East of England to offer a dentistry degree.

Local MPs, including Duncan Baker, the MP for North Norfolk, believe that a new dental school would be a major step forward in trying to recruit dentists and fill gaps in the region. There is currently 1 dentist per 2,600 patients in Norfolk and Waveney, making the area one of the poorest in terms of dental access.

Mr Baker, whose father was a dentist, said that dentistry has been a problem for many years, but now, it is an issue that impacts constituents daily. Mr Baker is optimistic that setting up a dental school would help to ensure that more dentists work in the region. He described the plans as a “golden opportunity” to solve the dental access crisis.

Mr Baker’s comments were echoed by Broadland MP, Jerome Mayhew. Mr Mayhew said that patients are struggling to get appointments, including those with private dentists. A new NHS contract, which Mr Mayhew campaigned for, attracted no bidders and private dental practices are also finding it hard to recruit dentists. A new dental school would encourage more dentists to work in the region and provide better local training facilities for students who live in the East of England and would rather study closer to home. Currently, the closest universities offering dentistry programmes are based in London and Birmingham.

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