AN East Durham dental practice is hoping to welcome hundreds of NHS patients following the appointment of another dentist to its team.

Earlier this year, in the midst of a growing shortage of dentists and doctors, Easington Primary Care Trust launched a multi-million pound five-year drive to recruit more dental and medical professionals to the area.

As a result, a number of new dentists have been appointed and on Monday it was announced that Saad Al-Haboubi, who has been practising for seven years, has joined Murton Dental Practice, after moving north from Norwich.

His appointment means that the practice, which already has 2,700 patients, now has the capacity to increase its register to almost 4,000.

Shailesh Kuvelker, principle dentist, said: "We now have completely open access for unregistered patients - anyone wanting to receive NHS treatment could be seen in a day or two.''

The practice, in Woods Terrace East, has also extended to include a surgery which has enabled it to start monthly minor oral surgery sessions.

Visiting dentist Zahida Hadzikadunic carries out a range of procedures at the surgery.

Patients are now being referred from surgeries across the district, after being assessed by their own dentist.

"We take x-rays and then digitise them before e-mailing them to Ms Hadzikadunic, who can then assess patient information online,'' said Mr Kuvelker.