Three new dental services in the region set up a year ago to ease the sector's crisis are already full to capacity.

Health bosses commissioned extra 12-hour services in Norwich, King's Lynn and Lowestoft, offering dental care from 8am until 8pm, seven days a week. 

The three contracts are held by Smile Care United Ltd in Lynn and Norwich and Dental Design Studio in Lowestoft.

However, in a damning indictment of the extent of the dental crisis, none are now accepting new NHS referrals.

The services were commissioned around a year ago and now provide NHS dentistry to around 6,800 people in the region.

But despite offering their full range of services to these people - 4,343 adults and 2,449 children - none are currently accepting new referrals.

In a report which went before NHS Norfolk and Waveney's integrated care board, chief executive Tracey Bleakley highlighted the difficulties dentistry in the region is facing.

She wrote: "There are significant challenges with access to dental services in particular.

"There are actions we will be able to take relatively quickly that will make a difference. However, sustainable, long-term change will take time to achieve."

It comes after the integrated care board officially took over responsibility for the region's dentistry, which had previously been held by NHS England.

NHS dental places have been in such high demand that more than 300 people queued at the Lynn site when new slots were offered this month.

A spokesman for NHS Norfolk and Waveney said: "We are committed to ensuring everyone can access high-quality dental care across Norfolk and Waveney, and are working closely with dental providers and a range of local health partners to improve access to services. 

“Our aim is to improve access to services to better meet the needs of our people and communities across Norfolk and Waveney.”