Cash boost for PCT

Access to NHS dentistry in Norfolk is set to improve after the local primary care trust was given increased government funds to help its struggling service.

Norfolk Primary Care Trust will receive an extra £1.1m to put towards dental services.

Thousands of patients have been turned away by dentists over the last few months because of a significant budget shortfall due to a government miscalculation when introducing the new contract last April.

But the PCT is now in a position to implement ‘more robust plans’ so more patients should be able to see an NHS dentist.

David Stonehouse, director of finance for Norfolk PCT, said: ‘The Norfolk PCT dentistry budget is approximately £21m and we overspent on this by £800,000 due to a shortfall on NHS patient charges for the financial year 2006/07.

‘The Department of Health has recognised this problem and in the coming financial year we will be getting an extra £1.1m which will enable us to put in place more robust plans for now and the future.

‘Currently we are in the process of agreeing with practices where additional NHS capacity can be secured as a short-term measure. In tandem with this we are conducting a health needs assessment to inform the long-term strategic plan for the Norfolk PCT area.’

Nick Stolls, a Norfolk dentist and part of the Local Dental Committee for the county, told the Norwich Evening News: ‘Changes are finally happening.

‘I really hope the new funding will sort out what has been close to an NHS dentistry crisis for some time.’

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