Access to NHS dentists in North West Norfolk, particularly for children, is a long-running issue for local residents with our community having the highest population per dentist across Norfolk and Waveney.
Improving access to dentists is an issue that James has focused on since his election and he continues to campaign on it. He has made clear to NHS England and NHS Improvement the urgent need to improve access.
James has lobbied NHS England throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and he has underlined that current dental care provision needs significant improvement to the responsible body, NHS East of England Direct Commissioning Group.
The NHS has short, medium, and long terms plans for dental care to improve access to dentists in North West Norfolk. The Dental Strategy group are aware that there are gaps and poor access to routine and urgent dental care in West Norfolk.
James is pleased that the new dental practice in Marham has increased capacity and continues to take on new NHS patients. Constituents seeking dental care should contact the practice directly.
Importantly, a re-commissioning exercise is due to take place in West Norfolk to support approximately 30,000 residents. Prior to Covid-19, the plan was to open at least one new practice by April 2021. These plans are being reviewed due to the ongoing response to the pandemic but James is urging NHS England to deliver these plans as soon as possible.
Following the closure of My Dentist in the High Street, James has underlined the importance of reallocating the funding for that practice in order to commission additional services from local dentists.
If you need urgent dental care, then please call 111 for assistance. While improved access will not come immediately, as this is a long running issue, there are plans to tackle the current unsatisfactory situation.
In his Maiden Speech, James commented that "more than one constituent looking to find an NHS dentist has commented to me on the absurdity of the advice on the NHS website, recommending that they go to Skegness as the nearest practice. Flying across the Wash may be practical for the migrating pink-footed geese that are a great sight in the big skies of Norfolk, but it is not very practical advice for my constituents, so dental provision is an issue that I will be working on in this Parliament."