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Nhs Dentists

Volume 401: debated on Tuesday 18 March 2003

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If he will make a statement on the availability of NHS dentistry in the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. [103209]

The Government are aware that the Northumberland care trust has been concerned about access to NHS dentistry in Berwick-upon-Tweed. As a result, we have recently approved funding for the trust to appoint a part-time salaried dental practitioner to work in Berwick royal infirmary. That will address the issues in the short term while longer-term solutions are considered.

While that appointment has yet to be filled and there are no vacancies in NHS dental practices in the area, what can the Under-Secretary say to my constituents who have been told that the only way in which to get NHS dental treatment is to travel 65 miles to the Newcastle dental hospital?

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will encourage his constituents to support the Bill, which is currently being considered, and will give primary care trusts the leverage to ensure local commissioning. I am in discussion with the British Dental Association to ensure that we have dental support teams in areas where access is a specific problem.