The University of Bristol’s Dental Hospital and School is celebrating a £15million expansion today.
The new facility – the most advanced of its kind in the country – will accommodate 29 new dental students who, when qualified, will provide much-needed NHS dental treatment to an estimated 63,000 patients a year.
A joint bid from the University and the United Bristol Healthcare Trust (UBHT) secured £15,337,000 in capital investment for the work from the Department of Health, via the Strategic Health Authority (£13,137,000) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (£2,200,000).
The key features of the new facility are:
• 29 new places for dental undergraduates (up from 50 to 79)
• 12 new places for dental hygienist/therapist students
• 50 new dental chairs (up from 113 to 163)
• New and refurbished patient facilities, reception areas and clinical areas
• Two new decontamination suites
• New research laboratories with enhanced teaching facilities
• A new prosthetic teaching laboratory and dental production laboratories
• Four new seminar rooms for multi-functional use
• A completely refurbished library with two dedicated computer-aided learning suites
• A new student common room
• New and refurbished office accommodation
• New and improved information technology provision
The official opening of the new facility is taking place this afternoon (Wednesday) and will be presided over by Dr Barry Cockcroft, chief dental officer.
Speaking ahead of the event, he said: ‘The development at Bristol Dental School is a key component of the government’s £80 million programme for the expansion of dental education.
‘It is the largest project undertaken at an existing dental school and all those involved in planning and construction are to be congratulated for delivering such high-quality facilities on time within cost.’
Professor Jonathan Sandy, head of the dental school, added: ‘The newly refurbished dental School will benefit Bristol and much of the South West region.
‘The current pressing shortages in access to dental care in Bristol and the South West are well recognised.
‘It is known that dental students tend to set up in practice close to where they train and, providing the wrinkles in the new contract for general dental practitioners are ironed out, Bristol and the South West can reasonably expect to see an increase in available dental services.
The expansion of the existing site is part of a wider programme that includes the development of a new 21-chair community dental hospital in Hengrove, which is due to be completed by the end of 2009.
This will give access to dental care in one of the areas of Bristol with significant dental disease and inequalities in healthcare delivery.
It also provides an opportunity to train dental students with other dental-care professionals (therapists, hygienists, dental nurses and technicians) and to learn skills in team-working.
This approach will be supported with high-speed technology links to enable teaching to be delivered simultaneously at both sites avoiding replication of teaching or students having to miss lectures.