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UEA dentistry school rejected

08:51 27 January 2006

PAUL HILL

Hopes that the Government would act to ease the shortage of NHS dentists in East Anglia were dashed last night when a £12m bid to build a new school of dentistry in Norfolk were rejected.

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Hopes that the Government would act to ease the shortage of NHS dentists in East Anglia were dashed last night when a £12m bid to build a new school of dentistry in Norfolk were rejected.

A successful bid would have seen the first 80 students begin their five-year dentistry training at the University of East Anglia in September 2007.

But the Government decided instead to back proposals to build a shared dentistry school between the universities of Exeter and Plymouth.

In a separate development, the Government did agree to increase the number of UK medical students at the UEA from 130 to 155 from this autumn - with a further 15 students from overseas.

Professor Sam Leinster, head of the UEA Medical School, said: “This means we will be able to extend the medical placements [for trainee doctors] to King's Lynn in addition to Norwich and Yarmouth.”

But he added: “We are very disappointed about the dentistry school. We felt it would be an important asset for the region because there is a shortage of NHS dentistry in East Anglia.

“We did think a dentistry school would help deal with that and attract more dentists to the region.”

But Professor Leinster added that the Government had left a “hint” that a future bid for a dentistry school would be considered in future - but with no indication of when.

The precise scale of the shortage of NHS dentists in Norfolk is unclear.

But several Polish dentists were recruited to work in the Yarmouth area in late 2004.

The failed UEA dental school bid would have seen the teaching staff offering NHS treatment around the county when they were not working with students.

Students would have also offered limited NHS treatment under supervision.

Nationally, it has been estimated that only half of the population is registered with a dental surgery and that at least another 1850 dentists need to be recruited.

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