NHS England promises new dental services in Suffolk
The NHS has pledged to bring new dental services to Suffolk next summer – but campaigners say the wait for treatment is ‘outrageous’.
NHS England has written MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, Dr Dan Poulter, to confirm the purchase of seven-day services.
However, the Toothless in Suffolk campaign group criticized the delay and said patients were turning to private care and charity treatment.
A number of towns in Suffolk have lost their dental practices in the past 18 months – with two surgeries shutting down in Leiston alone.
This has forced some patients based in east Suffolk to seek NHS dental treatment from as far away as north Essex or go private.
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Dr Poulter wrote to NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard in late August after receiving concerns from a number of people living in her constituency.
In the response, the NHS said it was purchasing new dental services for Suffolk and Norfolk, which will provide services to adults and children.
Dr Poulter praised the commitment, but was “disappointed” to learn that patients could wait nine months or more for new services.
He said: “Many residents have contacted me to describe the difficulties they have encountered in accessing NHS dental services.
“In addition to struggling to get routine NHS dental appointments, a number of these residents suffered from pain and discomfort and could not access emergency dental care.
“While I am happy to have secured this engagement from NHS England, I remain disappointed that we are considering a nine-month timeline until these enhanced services become available.
‘It is vital that Suffolk residents can access appropriate NHS dental care when needed and I will continue to lobby NHS England to ensure the timely delivery of dental services in central Suffolk and the north of ‘Ipswich. “
Steve Marsling, from Toothless in Suffolk, said: “Having to wait nine months is absolutely outrageous. People are in pain, they can’t wait that long.
“This is an emergency. People are suffering and experiencing financial hardship.
“This timetable is totally unacceptable to Toothless in Suffolk – we are not taking this into our own hands.”