Norfolk is to get a cash boost of £700,000 to provide more NHS dentists in towns that need them most.
Norfolk Primary Care Trust carried out a review of dental services across the county and agreed to spend the money on providing more NHS dentists, first off in Dereham and North Walsham – identified as areas with the most acute dental care shortage.
Under the proposals, existing dentists who had recently gone private can now revert to the NHS and new dentists can equally apply for contracts in areas identified by the PCT as ‘hotspots of most need’.
But more dentists will be offered contracts to provide NHS treatment across Norfolk in future, the PCT said.
A Norfolk PCT spokesperson said: “As there is an uplift in funding, we will be looking to start introducing more dentists throughout the county.
“The two areas have been identified as hotspots of most need, but that is not to say that we will not phase in more specialists over the next years.”
The PCT’s move was welcomed by dentists’ leaders last night.
Nick Stolls, secretary of the Local Dental Committee, said: ‘The news will no doubt be greeted with pleasure by a significant number of patients in Dereham and North Walsham who will have access to NHS treatment in the future.
‘However, the NHS budget makes provisions for an 11% increase in funding for the financial year 2008/09. The committee will ensure that the money will be used efficiently to purchase more dental services.’