NHS dental contract for Lowestoft doesn't go far enough, say campaigners

nhs contract dentist lowestoft

Campaigners say the NHS contract awarded to Lowestoft doesn't go far enough. - Credit: PA

A new NHS dental contract for Lowestoft doesn't go far enough, with more funding and a reform of the contract system needed according to local campaigners.

Deals for various NHS dental contracts were signed in February for various locations in the east including in Lowestoft by Apps Smiles Ltd.

But these contracts are not due to start until July 1 as NHS waiting lists for dental care practices continue to be a problem and according to Waveney MP Peter Aldous, a decision on when a new dentist surgery will open in Lowestoft will not be made until next month. 

According to Mr Aldous, 56pc of patients new to practices in Waveney could not get an appointment, and, as of August 2021, the east of England had 174 fewer dentists than 12 months earlier.

Some in the area have been told that they will have to wait until at least 2024 for appointments, and others are being removed from their practice lists for not making appointments sooner as numerous concerns have been raised.

peter aldous

Waveney MP Peter Aldous spoke in parliament last month about the dental care crisis. - Credit: Archant

Speaking about plans for the NHS dentist practice in Lowestoft, Mr Aldous said: "I understand that NHS England and the NHS Improvement East of England Dental Team are currently liaising with the new provider as to when the new surgery will open.

"A communication plan will be issued that will include the date on which patients will be able to contact the practice. 

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"They added that a further update will be provided next month, which will advise people as to when the practice will open and people will be able to make bookings."

'Dental desert' claims have become the new norm for towns like Lowestoft, where many rural practices are experiencing difficulties with recruitment, retiring dental doctors and lack of funding from central government.

mark jones

Mark Jones, from Toothless in Suffolk. - Credit: Mark Jones

This is the case across Suffolk, as Mark Jones from Toothless in Suffolk explains: "We are in a crisis right now.

"Although Lowestoft has been awarded this contract it doesn't go far enough, it doesn't scratch the surface of this crisis.

"So while it is welcome news, more funding from central government and reform of the entire system making sure contracts are patient led rather than being target based is required."