The University of Plymouth’s Peninsula Dental School is offering dental appointments to children at Whitleigh Primary School.
Thanks to its clinical partner, Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise (PDSE), the appointments will be offered to all students in keys stages one and two, with children remaining patients up until the age of 16.
Johnny Mercer heralded the announcement as “the first marker in my mission to transform healthcare in Plymouth”. Looking forward, it is hoped that the same steps can be taken with more schools across Plymouth.
PDSE offers NHS dental treatment across the South West to people who might not otherwise be able to access it; and students on the University of Plymouth’s dentistry and dental therapy and hygiene courses deliver the appointments under supervision.
As part of their degree, the students also complete a project with PDSE to deliver oral health education sessions to organisations around the city, including schools and charities.
Mr Mercer reasons that “The 22,000 NHS waiting list won’t slash itself overnight, but initiatives like these will go a long way to addressing the problem. I pay tribute to PDSE for their innovative work in this space.”
Reflecting on the dental breakthrough, PDSE Chief Executive, and Professor of Community Dentistry at the University of Plymouth, Robert Witton, said: “As soon as we became aware of Whitleigh School and their campaign we wanted to help, so I am delighted we have been able to. We are keen to do even more, and we are discussing ways of doing this with Devon ICB. We can’t solve the crisis in the city, but we are ready to play our part.”
Johnny Mercer and PDSE’s Directors sit on the cross-party Dental Task Force, set up by key stakeholders to join up the city’s response to the crisis.
At the forefront of the campaign to solve Plymouth’s dental crisis, Johnny Mercer candidly shared his thoughts in his regular column for the Plymouth Herald on Sunday, 15th October, describing the City’s dental provision as being “in a horrible state”. In the article, Mr Mercer set out his mission to provide every under-16 in Plymouth with access to an NHS dentist. The announcement marks the greatest breakthrough since Mr Mercer put his weight behind the campaign to solve Plymouth’s dental crisis, forming part of the Plymouth Moor View MP’s wider programme of delivery for the City.