Peter Aldous speaks in support in a debate on the potential merits of establishing a dental training college in East Anglia in the long term, and outlines the immediate action needed from the Government to address the current crisis in NHS dentistry in East Anglia.
I will contribute very quickly, Madam Deputy Speaker, if you will give me the opportunity.
My hon. Friend the Member for Broadland (Jerome Mayhew) has set out a great vision of a future in which East Anglia, Norfolk and Suffolk have high-quality dentistry schools. That is great, but we need a bridge to get to that future, because two dentistry schools will take some time to set up. Does he agree that we need to look at other strands to address the crisis in NHS dentistry in East Anglia, including recruitment and retention in the short term, making it easier for people from overseas to come and work in local dentistry; contract reform, which I think my hon. Friend referred to; a fair, long-term funding settlement; a focus on prevention; and improved local accountability through the fledgling integrated care systems?
I am grateful—
Order. Perhaps I am confused, but I thought that the hon. Member for Broadland (Jerome Mayhew) had finished. [Interruption.] Ah, so now he is intervening on the hon. Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous). That is absolutely fine.
Thank you for that clarification, Madam Deputy Speaker.
Does my hon. Friend agree that all those aspects are very important, but that perhaps there is another proposed solution that he has not mentioned? As we have learned today, there are inducement payments for teachers in special areas that are struggling to recruit. Perhaps we could apply the same approach to dentists in special areas that are struggling to recruit.
I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention and apologise for hijacking his debate. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. This is a multifaceted challenge; there is no one solution and no one golden bullet. We need to address all the points, and he is right to raise that one.
I speak as an MP with a foot in both camps: I am a Suffolk MP but I also represent the Norfolk and Waveney integrated care system area. Does my hon. Friend agree, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Tom Hunt) said, that it is very important that the two proposals being put together by the University of Suffolk and the University of East Anglia are collaborative and worked on together, so that they come through with a solution for the whole of East Anglia?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The only phrase that I would pick him up on is that he has “a foot in both camps”. I do not think there should be two camps. This is an East Anglian solution, whereby the proposals are complementary and, in time, they should both be implemented.