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£16 million for more dentists

Press release issued: 28 June 2006

The Bristol Dental School is to address the country-wide shortage of dentists, thanks to a grant of £16.1 million from the Department of Health and Higher Education Funding Council for England.

The Bristol Dental School is to address the country-wide shortage of dentists, thanks to a grant of £16.1 million from the Department of Health and Higher Education Funding Council for England.

At present, the Dental School accepts 55 new students each year. The new funding will increase this to 75 as part of a national initiative to train 170 extra dentists per year, across the country.

The University of Bristol, United Bristol Healthcare Trust and Bristol South Primary Care Trust made the successful bid together to expand dental education and local dental care.

Professor Eric Thomas, the University of Bristol’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “Dental training at the University of Bristol is second to none and we always have far more applicants than we can accept. Now we will be able to train over 40 per cent more students, which will not only bring benefits locally, it will also benefit the country as a whole.”

The ambitious rebuild programme includes the refurbishment of existing space, which means there is little need for ‘new build’, and capital costs and on-going capital charges are kept to a minimum.

The main entrance to the Dental Hospital will include improvements to make it more accessible for those with mobility impairments, including the installation of a ramp. A new infrastructure, both clinical and non-clinical, will also be designed and used flexibly, keeping in mind possible future expansion needs.

The expansion will include a teaching and clinical centre at the South Bristol Community Hospital, due to open in 2008/9. Experienced students based there will provide supervised dental treatment sessions for local people at this site, as well as at the Dental Hospital. The development of this outreach clinical site means students will have the educational benefit of getting clinical experience in a site of maximum dental need.

Dr Jane Luker, clinical lead for dental services said: “It's very exciting to have confirmation of the education funding, which, in addition to the NHS money, means we can progress plans to substantially improve the facilities and environment for patients and staff at the Hospital and train more students.”

Gill Velleman, Project Director for Dental services, added: “As a Primary Care Trust we have been working on many schemes to increase patients' access to NHS dental treatments. Many of these are beginning to pay off and we are seeing a large number of dentists open their lists to NHS patients.  This scheme will provide real long-term benefits.”

Additional benefits at the Dental Hospital include:

  • The Clinical Skills Laboratory will be enlarged from 30 to 45 ‘phantom heads’ (simulator heads for training purposes), and the number of dental chairs available for training purposes will be increased from 113 to 161. It will also incorporate a state-of-the-art audio-visual system that supports multi-group usage of the facility.
  • A new prosthetics teaching laboratory will be developed.
  • Library and IT facilities are being developed within existing space and will incorporate facilities to suit modern methods of study, such as wireless compatibility; extensive electronic journal access; removal to store of seldom-used books and periodicals; and space-saving modern IT facilities.
  • An expanded student common room that will be furnished to allow for private study throughout the day.

There will also be a training and clinical centre in Swindon and Marlborough Hospitals from 2007.


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