New NHS dentists open for business

More than 12,000 new NHS dental places have been opened up thanks to an innovative new practice in the heart of a town centre shopping precinct.

More than 12,000 new NHS dental places have been opened up thanks to an innovative new practice in the heart of a town centre shopping precinct.

Oradental, a six-dentist practice, opened for registration last week and, with more than 1,000 people on its books already, was seeing its first patients yesterday.

It is based in the former JJB Sport shop opposite Debenham's in King's Lynn's High Street.

Practice owner Paul Thompson, 47, said although he had been practising privately since 1992, two years ago he decided he would go back to NHS dentistry “to make life interesting”.

“It was a bit of a mid-life crisis. But someone has to look after my mother. I enjoyed being a manager at Snettisham and I thought I would have a go here,” he said.

“If I was after money, I would stay private. NHS dentistry is not particularly profitable; it is high- pressure, low-profit work.

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“Government reforms have made it worse and the treadmill has increased, so dentists have found it worse.”

He has been a dentist for nearly 20 years, and has two other practices in Norwich and Snettisham.

He had to bid for £500,000 of funding to provide NHS dentistry in the area and it was the high street position which, he says, won him the contract from Norfolk Primary Care Trust.

There will be six dentists at the practice, mainly drafted in from abroad due to the difficulties recruiting British dentists to NHS practices.

And once fully staffed, his dentists will be from India, Poland, Portugal, Kenya and Kuwait.

Everything is hi-tech, with digital technology, including viewing x-rays on computer screens instead of processing film - which also cuts patients' exposure to x-rays.

And it will incorporate cross- infection control and sterilisation facilities

They would open early and late and through lunch hours, he said.

Mr Thompson added: “We're trying to come up with a different way of organising the process to make it cost-effective and a nice environment to work in.”

Nikki Cocks, a lead manager for the PCT, said: “The PCT is delighted that Oradental is now bringing access for a further 12,000 patients to the west Norfolk area.

“We are committed to improving the standards of our dental services in Norfolk and we continue to work towards equality of access in all areas.”