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Universities shortlisted to establish first dental school in South East

Published: 
8 July 2005

A joint bid from the Universities of Southampton and Portsmouth to establish the first dental school in the South East outside London has been referred to stage two of the bidding exercise by the Department of Health and HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England), as part of the Government's plans to tackle the national shortage of dentists.

The Universities, in partnership with King's College London, will found a new Southern School of Dentistry in Hampshire. The bid has strong support from local authorities, MPs and the NHS throughout Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Dorset and Somerset. The new School will cost in the region of £35 million. A final decision by HEFCE is expected in early 2006.

Central to the bid is that dental students in the new School will learn alongside dental nurses, hygienists and therapists, with much of the education of this integrated dental team taking place in a number of community oral health centres.

Located in areas of high treatment need in Hampshire, the centres will also provide NHS dentistry to the public, and enable specialist dental services to be provided in the community, therefore minimising patient travel to major hospitals.

The bid draws on the combined strengths of the University of Southampton's well-established Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Midwifery, and Health Professions and Rehabilitation Sciences, and the University of Portsmouth's success in establishing the country's first School of Professionals Complementary to Dentistry that trains dental nurses, dental hygienists and dental therapists.

"This is a strong bid which blends the innovative dental therapy education provided at the University of Portsmouth with the education and research strengths of the University of Southampton's Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences," said Professor John Craven, Vice Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth.

"In addition to educating a new generation of dentists in the South, the new School will have a strong research agenda in oral health care, collaborating with the excellent established research groups at both Southampton and Portsmouth, and informing future oral health policy," commented Professor Bill Wakeham, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton.

An innovative feature of the curriculum is that graduate entry will be open to health science graduates, including graduate dental therapists. This route of entry will provide a quicker flow of trained dentists into practice. Discussions are under way with the General Dental Council about the feasibility of a part-time route for students who are simultaneously practising as dental therapists.

The bid to build the new Southern School of Dentistry in Hampshire has the support of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Strategic Health Authority, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Workforce Development Confederation, Dorset and Somerset Strategic Health Authority and all ten Hampshire and Isle of Wight Primary Care Trusts which share the Universities' commitment to improving dental services and dental health for the community.

Notes for editors

  1. Additional information
    * A key component of the bid is the plan to introduce combined training for dentists with other health care students. Both Universities are committed to ensuring that all health care students are given the opportunity to learn and work together through an interprofessional model of education.
    * A major emphasis of the new School would be on achieving and sustaining long-term oral and dental health, through teaching patients the importance of healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle.
    * The Hampshire and IoW Strategic Health Authority has the fifth lowest registration rate with dentists of the 28 Health Authorities in England (43 per cent compared to 48 per cent nationally).
    * The South East is projected to account for 28 per cent of the total growth of the population of England (over 840k) by 2021, so demand for oral health care will increase significantly.
  2. University of Southampton
    The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has around 20,000 students and nearly 5000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £270 million.
    The University's School of Medicine, established in 1971, is one of the top ten UK medical schools for research and education, with the latest Times University Guide placing it joint third in the country. The University provides training in a wide range of other health care professions through its School of Nursing and Midwifery, and its School of Health Professions & Rehabilitation Sciences, which is at the forefront of Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy & Podiatry research and education. This year the University was awarded a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) by HEFCE for interprofessional learning across the public sector.
  3. In February this year, the School of Professionals Complementary to Dentistry was opened, the first of its kind in the country. In response to the national shortage of dental professionals, the School provides training for dental therapists and dental nurses. Housed in a £4 million purpose-built building, it includes a 24-bay treatment clinic, two individual surgeries, a phantom head skills laboratory and radiography suite.

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