HYNDBURN’S new dental school – one of the first to be unveiled in the country in nearly 100 years – has been officially opened by Britain’s chief dental officer.
Barry Cockcroft toured the new Oak House dental centre, adjacent to the Accrington Pals Health Centre in Paradise Street, Accrington, after the ceremony.
Before unveiling the official plaque, he met dental students who are training at the centre, as well as officials from NHS East Lancashire which has been instrumental in getting the project off the ground.
The aim is to train “home-grown’’ dentists for the future at the £2.2M centre, which has four purpose-built, state-of-the-art surgeries in place of the old surgeries at the Accrington Victoria Hospital site. It will also serve as a base for the local NHS out-of-hours emergency dental service.
The new four-year graduate dental course has recruited its first 32 students, who will spend time at a new £5.2M dental school in Preston before eight of them come to East Lancashire for their clinical experience.
In the meantime, Oak House will also act as a training centre for 29 local dental therapy students, who will do much of their practical training with dentists in Burnley, Pendle, Rossen-dale, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley and Blackburn with Darwen.
David Peat, chief executive of East Lancashire Primary Care Trust, said: “We are delighted and proud to have played a part in getting this new dental school up and running.
“It’s a unique ‘hub and spoke’ concept, with our dental centre here acting as a vital ‘spoke’ in the heart of East Lancashire.
“It’s one of the first new dental schools to be set up in more than a century, which is quite an achievement in itself. All credit to the partnership that has made it possible.”
Residents wishing to access an NHS dentist must still ring NHS Direct on 0845 4647 and ask for the East Lancashire dental allocation list.