7,700 NHS dentist places for Sidmouth

DENTISTS in Sidmouth have welcomed plans to introduce thousands of extra NHS dental spaces in the town.

DENTISTS in Sidmouth have welcomed plans to introduce thousands of extra NHS dental spaces in the town.

The move would see around 7,700 extra places become available from 2010.

NHS Devon, which commissioned the additional service, has invited dentists who are interesting in providing the places to apply for the contract.

The final stage of the tendering process takes place on November 17 and it is expected the NHS will announce who has been awarded the contract soon after this date.

David Lee, a partner of Apollonia House Dental Clinic in Sidmouth, said the practice is involved in the tendering process and hopes to take on all 7,700 NHS dental spaces.

Some NHS spaces became available at the surgery in August when a new dentist was taken on but the list is currently closed.

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Mr Lee said: "Hopefully we will win the tender to offer that service and open our NHS list in due course.

"We will be able to provide the service by expanding our practice and we are dealing with the plans. We are hopeful of opening three more surgeries."

Mr Lee added that if Apollonia House is awarded the contract, they intend to start taking on NHS patients in April and introduce the extra places over a period of two years.

Andrew Harris, who manages dentistry provision in Devon, said a need for NHS spaces had been identified in Sidmouth and these plans hope to combat the shortage.

"One of the priorities the NHS has certainly this year is trying to improve NHS dentistry," said My Harris.

"There is always a gap where patients are trying to find access to services and people in Sidmouth have been finding it difficult."

Mr Harris said as they are still "in the middle" of the tendering process it has not yet been decided if the contract will go to a new practice or existing dentistry.

He added that similar processes were happening in neighbouring East Devon towns and collectively it would make a "major impact" on improving NHS services in the area.

To find out how to join an NHS dental practice, ring the NHS Dental helpline on 0845 002 0034.