Access to NHS dentists in North West Norfolk is a long-running issue 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 has made clear to NHS England repeatedly in regular meetings the need to improve access. People in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk will find it easier to access a dentist following the award of two new dental contracts for King's Lynn beginning in July 2022.
James has lobbied NHS England throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, underlining 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.
- The NHS East of England announced that it had successfully completed a procurement process and awarded two new dental contracts for King’s Lynn to Smile Care Norfolk Limited. The award of the two contracts follows a procurement process James campaigned for to increase dental provision in King’s Lynn and in other parts of Norfolk and Suffolk. Two of the lots in the procurement exercise were for King’s Lynn and this will see services delivered at premises accessible to serve the main population densities and located near good public transport links and road networks.
These contracts will commence by 1 July 2022 which will significantly increase access to local dentist provision. These dental services will provide new services for adults and children, operating from 8am-8pm, 7 days a week for routine treatment, as well as urgent appointments.
Commenting on the announcement James said:
“Improving access to dentists in West Norfolk is an issue I have been campaigning for over the last two years. In my regular meetings with the NHS I have repeatedly pressed then to increase provision. So I am delighted that the procurement process has been successful and King’s Lynn will have new dentists offering many more appointments for local people.”
Both the lots are for nearly 22,000 Units of Dental Activity (UDAs) a year. UDAs are a measure of the amount of work done during dental treatment. More complex dental treatments count for more UDAs than simpler ones. For example, an examination is 1 UDA, fillings are 3 UDAs, and dentures are 12 UDAs.
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."
Seeing a dentist
- Anyone who requires urgent dental care and is not registered at a dental practice or needs to see a dentist out of hours, should call NHS 111.
- Only go to A&E in serious circumstances, such as: severe pain, heavy pain & injuries to the fade, mouth or teeth. Anyone not sure whether they need to go to A&E, contact NHS 111, who will be able to advise.
- If after contacting several dental surgeries anyone cannot find a dentist accepting NHS patients, call NHS England's Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233.