DENTISTS are expecting to be inundated with patients after a new NHS surgery was announced for a Suffolk town.
The new Bury St Edmunds practice is expected to open on Woolhall Street in April and is the first sign in the town of a package of investment tackling the county’s NHS dentist shortage.
The announcement has been welcomed by patients and community leaders in an area where only 22% of practices are accepting new patients. And according to NHS Suffolk one-in-four 5-year-olds have decaying, missing or filled teeth.
The move comes after Suffolk health bosses conceded there was “significant unmet need” and “although there is a statutory duty to ensure that there is reasonable access to dentistry, it is not clear that this requirement is being met everywhere”.
The Bury practice set to be run as the White Cross practice and is part of a £1.8million overhaul to increase access for patients in response to the problem.
David Lockwood, chairman of Suffolk County Council’s health scrutiny committee and St Edmundsbury Borough Council member, said: “This is great news for the west of the county. A new practice has already opened in Brandon and it has already begun making a difference.
“And the addition of investment orthodontic services is also going to be fantastic.”
The money, first announced last September, has also been earmarked for new practices in Sudbury, Hadleigh, Eye and Stowmarket, with further investment in Saxmundham, Woodbridge and Newmarket.
Among the recommendations to be implemented by the funding – of which £500,000 will be spent on orthodontics – people living in urban areas should be within five miles of a dentist and people living in rural areas should be no more than 12 miles away from a surgery.
A spokesman for NHS Suffolk said: “NHS Suffolk is spending £1.3million this year to improve access to dental services across the county, with a further £500,000 for orthodontic services.
“As part of this, we are now working closely with the owners to establish the new practice in Bury St Edmunds, and further details will be announced over the coming weeks.”