More than 300 extra patients will be able to be seen in Northumberland when orthodontist provision is expanded from next year.
NHS England is re-procuring specialist orthodontic provision across the North East and Cumbria, including the Northumberland contract which expires at the end of March 2019.
At this month’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee, it was explained that estimated need is based on a figure of 33 per cent of 12-year-olds needing this type of dental treatment which uses braces and retainers to correct the alignment of teeth.
This method suggests there are an estimated 1,060 patients who need treatment in Northumberland each year, but the current capacity is only 863.
Going forward, there will be two specialist contracts, up from one, in the county – one in Alnwick and another in Ashington. This will mean an increase in the number of patients who can be seen annually from 478 to 800.
This is on top of existing provision through other dental practices in Alnwick, Amble, Ashington, Berwick, Blyth, Hexham and Morpeth.
Among the other key changes in the new contract is that the practices will have to provide availability for after-school appointments, something which has been highlighted in patient feedback.
Ben O'Connell , Local Democracy Reporting Service