A new £9 million centre for training dental professionals of the future opened in Hampshire today (Wednesday).
The University of Portsmouth’s Dental Academy was officially opened by parliamentary under-secretary of state for health, Lord Howe.
Lord Howe, who is the minister with lead responsibility for dentistry, said: ‘I was delighted to see the high quality hands-on training provided at Portsmouth Dental Academy today.
‘As set out in the NHS White Paper, we are committed to improving oral health for adults and children as well as increasing access to NHS dental services across the country.
‘The University of Portsmouth Dental Academy has an important role to play in delivering on this agenda. They are providing first-class training and education for our future dentists and dental care professionals and excellent services to patients in the area.’
‘Historically the Portsmouth area has had significant oral health needs which the Dental Academy, working in partnership with others, will help to address. It aims to specifically target those people who have been previously considered hard to reach, including children, the elderly and those who, for a variety of reasons, have not had regular access to a NHS dentist.’
The innovative approach sees final-year dental students, from King’s College London Dental Institute, working alongside hygiene therapists and dental nursing students, replicating real-life practice.
Supervised by tutors, students also provide free treatment for local people every year.
The new centre has 20 additional dental chairs, radiography facilities, a modern instrument decontamination centre as well as seminar rooms.
Clinical director John Weld said: ‘They learn to work together for the best advantage of the patient.’
He said that the system teaches dentists of tomorrow how to delegate and create a ‘pyramid’ approach to dental care with the right dental professionals carrying out the right treatments, successfully bridging the gap ‘between a hospital setting and primary dental care’.
The Dental Academy is an innovative education partnership between the University of Portsmouth and King’s College London Dental Institute (KCLDI). Every year 80 final year dental students from KCLDI will join dental hygiene, therapy and dental nursing students from Portsmouth to train and work together in teams.
Supervised by tutors, the students provide dental treatment and advice to people from Portsmouth, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The arrangements will enable student dental care professionals and dentists to experience working as a team just as they will in practice, following a treatment model that empowers patients to take ownership of their oral health.
Development of the new building has been enabled by capital funding support from the Department of Health, the local NHS and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
Historically the Portsmouth area has had significant oral health needs that the dental academy, working in partnership with others, will help to address.
It aims to specifically target those people who have been previously considered hard to reach, including children, the elderly and those who, for a variety of reasons, have not had regular access to a NHS dentist.
Director of the dental academy, Sara Holmes, said: ‘Today marks the culmination of over two years of planning and represents a unique partnership between the University and the NHS.
The entire staff and student body are thrilled to be working and studying, alongside colleagues from Kings, in such a dynamic and progressive institution right the heart of Portsmouth.’
‘Everyone who has contributed to making this happen should be extremely proud of creating a unique facility which will leave a lasting legacy.’
The facility will cater for approximately 2000 new patients per annum and provide a dynamic programme of continuing professional development training events for local dental care professionals.
Nairn Wilson, Dean and Head of KCLDI, said: “King’s College London Dental Institute is delighted to have joined forces with the University of Portsmouth to create the Dental Academy, with a focus on innovation in the education of the dental team and the student experience.
‘We look forward to working with the university to build on the early success of the Academy to expand its range of activities to include research of international standing and state of the art postgraduate education and training.
‘Today’s formal opening of the Academy marks the beginning of a most promising, forward looking collaborative venture with enormous potential.’
The event was attended by members of the local dental community, representatives from the local NHS and from KCLDI who were joined by university chancellor, the actress Sheila Hancock.
The University of Portsmouth Dental Academy succeeds and builds on the University of Portsmouth School of Professionals Complementary to Dentistry, which opened in 2005.
The University of Portsmouth Dental Academy trains students in the following courses
• Foundation Award in Science and Dental Therapy
• BSc (Hons) Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy
•nCertificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing
The new development has been possible due to the support of the NHS and Higher Education Funding Council for England. The building and equipping costs, circa £9 million, have been met through capital contributions received from the H E F C England, (£3m) the Department of Health (£1.6 million) and the local NHS (£2.3 million).
The additional revenue, circa £1.2 million, is derived from a combination of Dental Service Increment for Teaching (DSift) monies and contracts with local NHS commissioners (NHS Portsmouth/Hampshire and Isle of Wight).