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News / December 9, 2009

Health service roll out set to benefit thousands

by Guy Hiscott

Access to health service dentistry in Northern Ireland should be greatly improved from today [9 December], as the first of a series of new practices officially opened.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey opened the new Oasis Dental Care Practice in Enniskillen where six dentists will deliver health service dentistry to nearly 10,000 local patients.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey chats to Aiden McCann from Trillick, one of the first users of the new Oasis health service dental practice in Enniskillen, shortly after the official opening of the practice. Dentist Nidal Abusara Darwich and dental nurse Louise Cosgrove talked the minister through the procedure.

A four-dentist Oasis Dental practice has also opened in Derry.

The Minister awarded a £17 million health service dentistry contract to Oasis Dental Care in May 2009 to provide 38 additional health service dentists in access hotspots across Northern Ireland. The contract will provide access for an additional 57,000 health service patients.

Opening the new practice in Enniskillen, the Minister said: ‘Clearly access to health service dentistry has been an issue for some patients. I was determined to find a solution to this problem. Everyone should be able to access health service dentistry no matter where they live or their circumstances.

‘The access problem was particularly evident in the west, so it is fitting that the first of these practices are in Enniskillen and Derry. I am confident that they will greatly ease the access problems to dental care that the people of the west have experienced for too long.

‘The practice here in Enniskillen is extremely impressive and I would like to thank Oasis Dental Care, the Health and Social Care Board, the Business Services Organisation and officials from my Department for their commitment to delivering these new practices.’

The Minister concluded: ‘I very much look forward to the further roll out of the programme across Northern Ireland in the New Year.’

It is hoped that, subject to planning permission, a further 28 dentists will be in place at the following locations by the summer of 2010:
• Strabane: 2 dentists
• Omagh: 2 dentists
• Dungannon: 2 dentists
• Carrickfergus: 2 dentists
• Cookstown: 2 dentists
• Newtownabbey: 4 dentists
• Banbridge: 2 dentists
• Newry: 2 dentists
• Holywood/Bangor: 4 dentists
• Lisburn/Dunmurry: 3 dentists
• Dundonald/Castlereagh/Carryduff: 3 dentists.