The University of East Anglia (UEA) has renewed its calls for permission to open a dental school. It says training dentists in the region would help ease the area’s access issues.

The appeal was made during an event announcing the launch of a new route which fast-tracks qualified doctors into jobs in the region and beyond.

David Maguire, UEA vice chancellor and president, reaffirmed the university’s commitment to its proposal to provide a Norwich dental school for the Eastern region.

East Anglia is the only region of England without a dental school, and consequently, it struggles to recruit and retain dentists, making it the most underserved area in the UK for dental care. According to data from the Local Government Association, Norfolk and Waveney have one of the lowest numbers of dentists per 10,000 people in the country.

David said, “Parts of East Anglia are among the worst ‘dental deserts’ in the country, and to provide the next generation of dentists for our region, UEA is proposing a new dental school.

“We welcome the Government’s plan to increase the number of undergraduate dental training places. In considering the establishment of new dental schools in underserved areas, we are asking the Government to allocate the new dentistry undergraduate places to East Anglia, where a new dental school can have the greatest impact.”

Andrea Leadsom, primary care minister, said, “We are taking bold action to improve access to dental care for all and our Dental Recovery Plan sets out how we are creating as many as 2.5m extra appointments this year alone.

“We’re offering dentists £20,000 golden hellos to work in underserved areas and we will be rolling out mobile dental vans to rural and coastal areas where access is more difficult.

“Our long term plans also include strengthening the dental workforce by creating thousands of new training places and making it easier for dentists who trained overseas to work here, ensuring everyone can access a dental appointment when and where they need it.”

Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland, said, “The best way to increase access to dentists and doctors is to train our young people here in the county. It is why we need a dental training school at the UEA and this decision to offer the graduate entry for medicine is so welcome.”