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Health bosses urged to make county a more attractive workplace as staffing issues blamed for lack of dental services

PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:49 15 April 2019

Access to dental services in Norfolk was discussed at a health and overview scrutiny committee meeting at County Hall in Norwich. Picture: Neil Perry

Access to dental services in Norfolk was discussed at a health and overview scrutiny committee meeting at County Hall in Norwich. Picture: Neil Perry

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Health bosses claim recruitment and retention of staff are to blame for the lack of NHS dental services in parts of Norfolk, as a report reveals none of the county's practices are achieving its targets.

Nick Stolls, secretary of the Norfolk Local Dentist Committee. Picture: Mercy ShipsNick Stolls, secretary of the Norfolk Local Dentist Committee. Picture: Mercy Ships

Members of Norfolk County Council's health overview and scrutiny committee have urged health chiefs at a meeting on Thursday to make Norfolk a more attractive place to live and work.

Nick Stolls, secretary of the Norfolk Local Dentist Committee, said the region lacked a dental school and newly-qualified dentists from urban areas would move to London, Birmingham or Manchester.

He said there was also the problem of clawbacks, in which money from under-delivering practices going back to the NHS “black hole”.

But Liberal Democrats councillor David Harrison questioned whether the lack of dental school was the problem, as he points to the schools for nursing and paramedics in the county and the lack of nurses and paramedics.

David Barter, head of commissioning at NHS England Midlands and East, said under current dental contracts a practice which does not deliver more than 96pc of its targets is in breach of its contract and faces a clawback.

He added: “We work closely with that practice to discuss how to turn that around in the upcoming year.”

But Labour councillor Dr Chris Jones pointed to a report, published ahead of the meeting, which showed every dental practice that had submitted its figures had not reached 96pc of its targets.

Debbie Walters, contract manager of NHS primary dental care, said some practices still had two months to submit figures, adding: “There are a greater number reaching their target than otherwise shown.”

Dr Jones quipped: “The current number is zero so it can't be less.”

Councillor Susan Fraser, who represents the Grimston ward in west Norfolk, asked where the funds from the closed down practices in Snettisham and East Harling were going after they shut down in November last year.

Mr Barter said the money from East Harling has been spread to other practices but not all of the funds from Snettisham has been reallocated.

He added that there was more work to be done to make sure the funds stayed in that area.

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