25 May 2022
When the University of Central Lancashire's (UCLan) School of Dentistry opened its doors 10 years ago, it was one of only two new dental schools to be created in England for over 100 years. Since then, UCLan dental students have treated more than 23,000 patients during their training and the school has produced hundreds of new dentists who have expanded the region’s dental workforce considerably. Many of the new dental graduates have chosen to establish their careers in the Preston area with more settling in the wider North West region.
The school was the first to pioneer a new mode of dental education, in which the graduate entry Bachelor of Dental Surgery students gain their experience in local community Dental Education Centres (DECs) rather than city centre hospitals, which has provided an accessible alternative to the traditional approach. The DECs, located across Lancashire in Accrington, Blackpool, Carlisle and Morecambe Bay, were established in areas of high need and poor dental health where access to NHS dentistry was limited, in part owing to difficulties in attracting qualified dentists to the area.
The school was established as a direct response to the needs of the region’s healthcare economy when the government made a clear commitment to improving access to NHS dental services. The fully qualified dentists that are trained through the school go onto work in the NHS and fill a key skills gap in areas of the region that lacked local dental services.