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University-NHS partnership

Dr Daniel Poulter has visited a cutting-edge partnership combining health professional training, research and addressing health inequalities.

The partnership is between Plymouth University and Plymouth community healthcare.

Dr Poulter, under secretary of state for health, visited the Devonport Dental Education Facility (DEF), one of four DEFs run across Devon and Cornwall.

Dental students treat NHS patients under the supervision of qualified dental healthcare professionals as part of their studies.

Dental students also carry out community engagement projects; so-called special study units, which see them interact with a wide variety of groups within the community.

The objective is to improve oral health within the community and encourage more people to seek dental care within the DEF programme.

Initiatives that have arisen from this process include a definitive oral health pack for those living on the streets, and a care policy procedure for carers in elderly nursing homes.

The DEF programme welcomed its first NHS patient in 2008 and since then more than 14,000 people in Devon and Cornwall have had access to NHS dental care.

Dr Poulter also officially opened the Cumberland General Practitioner (GP) Practice next door to the DEF.

This is a unique university/NHS partnership providing NHS care to 800 local patients.

The practice has two part-time GPs and two practice nurses.

The team provides GP-led care to patients, but also combines that with on-the-spot training of medical and nursing students from Plymouth University.

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