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Darlington to benefit from multi-million pound investment in urgent dental services

A MULTI-MILLION pound investment in dentistry will see extra urgent appointments available in Darlington.

NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) has pledged the extra investment of £3million this year as part of series of improvements that aim to ease the pressure on overstretched dentists across the region.

Extra urgent care appointments will be available in the town while the NHS carries out a procurement exercise to establish a new dental service in the Eastbourne area that is expected to be in place for early 2025.

In the meantime, patients will be able to access urgent appointments via NHS111 when a new short-term temporary Urgent Dental Access Centre (UDAC) in Firthmoor opens which is expected to be in June.

David Gallagher, chief contracting and procurement officer with the ICB said: " The ICB is investing in dentistry and in the last year we have seen a steady but slow improvement in the number of people accessing dental treatment - following an additional investment of £3m in 2023/24. 

"There is, however, a long way to go to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

"The ICB is making further funding available in 2024-25 to extend the short-term measures and additional capacity that was commissioned in 2023-24 to include the incentivised access scheme to provide additional appointments targeting patients in greatest clinical need and urgency, out of hours urgent dental treatment capacity, and additional dental clinical assessment workforce/triage capacity within the NHS 111 service.

"In Darlington, this includes investment in the temporary urgent dental access centre, which will provide increased urgent dental care capacity locally while a procurement process takes place to secure a new general and routine dental service in the Eastbourne ward of the town from January 2025, subject to a successful procurement outcome.

"Our longer-term plans include a full procurement plan, which has now started, that will provide between 198,322 and 244,596 extra urgent dental access appointments through 11 contracts in total covering Darlington, North Cumbria, Durham, Sunderland and Northumberland."

Peter Gibson, MP for Darlington said: "Working closely with NENC ICB, the planned provider, and Firthmoor Community Centre I am delighted to see the delivery of this much needed dental capacity in Darlington to meet the demand of the community I serve. This announcement significantly helps address the need in Darlington and I will continue to work for additional provision here."

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