School dental screening planned

Dentists in Essex may soon be providing school screening for primary school children.

General dental practitioners (GDPs) in Essex may be contracted to provide the dental service following the success of initiatives introduced to mark the 60th anniversary of the NHS, according to Kathy Flegg, dental lead for North East Essex Primary Care Trust.

As part of a programme of activities, dentists and dental nurses from 15 practices in Essex have been visiting nursery and primary schools to carry out dental checks on children aged 2–11.

About 20% of children were found to be in need of follow-up and were given appointments with the practices carrying out the checks.

‘It’s been so popular that we may continue the service until the end of the year and I am thinking of commissioning it from practices,’’ said Ms Flegg.

‘Access in this part of the country is quite good but we are always looking for ways of improving it,’ she added.

Problems recruiting to community dentistry had made it difficult for that service to carry out school checks, she said.

As part of the NHS anniversary celebrations, the PCT also organised ‘street dentist’ initiatives, with dentists standing in Colchester town centre approaching adults with children under 11 and offering them check-ups.

• At the time the NHS was launched, a shortage of dentists meant free treatment was not immediately available for all and children and nursing mothers were prioritised. But in October 1948, health minister Aneurin Bevan, architect of the NHS, announced that more than 80% of dentists were taking part in the new service – 8,039 out of a possible 10,000, and that one million people had sought treatment (BDJ, October 15 1948).

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