A bid to create a new dentistry school at the UEA to tackle the region's dentalcare crisis has suffered a setback after the health minister declined to support the vision.

The proposal was debated in parliament on Tuesday after Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew secured a debate on the issue.

The MP sees the school as the best way of addressing East Anglia's dentistry crisis, which has seen thousands of patients across the region struggling to get an NHS dentist, with many reporting health problems as a consequence.

But his calls were met with a cold response from new dentistry minister Will Quince, who said: "It's a no for now."

Outlining the proposals, Mr Mayhew said: "Why can we not produce dentists in East Anglia? The answer is that there is nowhere for them to train.

"If someone lives in East Anglia wants to become a dentist, the nearest place to train is Birmingham or London. None of the 10 training facilities around is in the east of England.

"That has to change."

Mr Mayhew added that in other medical fields taught at the UEA, four out of 10 tend to settle and work locally - also citing that parts of the country with dental schools tend to also have a higher dentist to patient ratio.

He added: "If that is the data surely the solution to East Anglia's problems is obvious: first, we need to open a dental school in East Anglia.

"I raised that need directly with the UEA some months ago and I have been enormously encouraged and impressed by their response, strongly supported by the NNUH, the region's training hospital."

But Mr Quince, whose own constituency of Colchester is also in East Anglia, said: "As the minister for dentistry, I understand that areas across the country have faced difficulty with recruitment and retention.

"Those challenges have significant impact on the provision of NHS dentistry and patients' ability to receive NHS care.

"On this occasion, it is a no, but it is a 'no for now', and let's very much keep talking.

"Establishing a new dental school takes several years and would not influence service provision in the short term.

"Notwithstanding the strong case that he makes, it also would not guarantee the ongoing sustained retention of dentists or support staff in the area.

"Our focus is not just on training more dentists, important as that is, but on the better use of the full dental team and the progression and retention of all dental care professionals in the NHS."