Discussions between University of East Anglia and local MPs for a new dentistry school

24 June 2022
2 min read

Two MPs, Jerome Mayhew and Duncan Baker, have recently met with staff from University of East Anglia (UEA) to discuss plans to create a new dentistry school. The plans hoped to address the shortage of dental professionals in the East of England.

In a statement UEA said, “The University has supported discussions with local MPs and PUS Health and social care to articulate the potential and feasibility of a dental school within the region in our capacity as a regional HEI; however, at this point no decisions have been taken and it is recognised that any changes to the national capacity for dental training places and their locations would be part of much wider national government planning.

“Since the early 1990s, UEA has developed teaching provision for Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professionals.  Norwich Medical School (NMS) is now ranked second in the region and twelfth in the UK in the Complete University Guide. Notably, with strong links to the Norwich Research Park and NNUH, the recent REF2021 results confirmed that 91 per cent of the University’s research is internationally excellent and the University ranked first in Agriculture, Food/Nutrition and Veterinary Science based on a strong base of food and nutrition translational research - a research base that would drive a world-leading Dental School. UEA submitted a bid to HEE in 2005 to establish a new dental school in the region, which demonstrated its feasibility and was applauded, but it was not selected at that time in favour of other regions with greater demand.

“The severe lack of capacity in NHS dentistry is an increasingly familiar issue in the East of England. MPs in the region testify that it is the most prevalent issue that constituents raise with them in correspondence and in person. The distribution of dental schools across England is uneven, with six schools in the North, two in London, two in the South-West, one in the Midlands and none in the East and the University’s focus is and will remain to be in support of the regional and national Health workforce requirements.”

Jerome Mayhew, Minister for East Anglia commented, “Right across Norfolk people are struggling to get access to dentists, whether NHS or private.  Whilst the situation has been made worse by the covid backlog, this has been a problem for years.  I persuaded the NHS to create a new NHS dental contract for Fakenham, only for no dentists to apply for it.  Private dental practices are struggling to get new recruits too. 

“Part of the problem is that you can’t train to be dentist anywhere in the East of England.  Colleagues Duncan Baker MP, Peter Aldous MP and I met the Minister to put the case for a new dental school at the UEA, because students want to stay in Norfolk once they have studied here.  The Minister has agreed to meet with Health Education England, who coordinate the education and training of dentists, to push for more training in Norfolk.  The UEA, who attended the meeting, have also agreed to provide a pilot document to the Minister setting out how the university could act as a training hub.

“With the closest dental colleges being in either London or Birmingham, this is an exciting opportunity to final get Norfolk the dental care it deserves.”