Ely dental practice transformed to welcome NHS patients amid waiting list crisis
A dental practice in Ely has been transformed in a bid to tackle the NHS waiting list crisis in the area.
Patients flocked to the new St Mary's Dental Practice when it was taken over by dentist Tom Norfolk and his wife Nicola Herrington in December.
“People were queuing out the door to register and the phones were ringing off the hook,” Tom said.
“It is a massive problem in Ely and we have been getting patients want to register with us from as far away as Thetford.
“We have had a lot of people get in touch who have struggled to see a dentist for years.”
Over the past four months the site has been completely refurbished with seven surgeries, a modern waiting room and repositioned reception.
And Tom and Nicola have high hopes for the practice – aiming to recruit a further two dentists to take their total up to nine and to launch a training practice on site.
Tom, who previously owned a practice in Suffolk, said: “There is just one other NHS practice in Ely and long waiting lists.
“If we do not deal with this there will be a real mess.”
St Mary's was formerly run by a dental group for five years with just locum dentists.
But the new St Mary's Dental Practice was keen to welcome old and new patients from the start, making sure that they stayed open throughout the revamp.
“We only had a one half day closure – which stacked up around 50 missed calls of people wanting to register,” Tom continued.
“Patients may come to us with severe infections and we are doing what we can to treat them because we don't want the hospitals clogged up.
“It is a difficult situation and Brexit has not helped the recruitment drive from further afield.”
Tens of thousands of patients have to wait 16 months for an NHS dentist nationally, it was revealed earlier this year.
Thousands are turning up at A&E in desperation to have painful teeth removed.
Lucy Frazer MP, who took a tour of the new site, said: “It is really important that we can serve people on the NHS.
“There is a huge demand for dentistry in the area and this will be a great boost.
“Tom and Nicola have brought new dentists from across the country here and will offer an excellent service for local people.”
The practice is situated in St Mary's Street in Ely, call 01353 662159.