Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk's recovery from its ongoing crisis in dentistry is going to be a "slow journey", health bosses have warned.

Accessing dentistry continues to be a major source of frustration locally, with not a single practice currently offering NHS treatments and people regularly forced to turn to A&E for support.

But bosses in charge of the service in Norfolk and Waveney warned a meeting of the county's health overview and scrutiny meeting that there are no quick fixes to the woes.


Sadie Parker, director of primary care at NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said: "We know the situation remains very challenging for people wanting to access NHS dentistry and we are still committed to publishing our long-term plan in March.

"I think it is fair to say this is going to be a slow journey for us. We have to be realistic, especially with the things that are out of our control."

Responsibility for commissioning dental services was transferred from NHS England to local NHS chiefs in April and already a number of investments have been made to try and ease the struggles.

These measures have included investing around £1m in an urgent treatment service and £600,000 in oral health prevention for children in schools.

However, with the NHS dental contract levels controlled by central government, local bosses are powerless to improve these conditions.

Jason Stokes, secretary of Norfolk's local dental committee, said this contract remained the biggest challenge in providing care.

He said: "We have had practices that have become bankrupt and most practices are propping up NHS work with private activity in a desperate effort to provide some NHS care to the local public.

"Unfortunately, there have been no national indications of a change to the contract and so practices that have been holding on in hopes of some form of new contract are having to look for alternative ways to provide any kind of treatment."