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Nhs Dentistry (South Devon)

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2003

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If he will review the level of provision of NHS dentistry in South Devon. [109804]

We are committed to rebuilding and restoring NHS dentistry to continue to improve the oral health of the nation. Alongside the proposals in the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill, 26 field sites covering 50 different locations are being set up to test different ways of providing NHS dentistry. One of the largest of these field sites covers the south-west peninsula and builds on the successful personal dental services pilot in Cornwall.

In spite of that answer, is the Minister aware that no dentist in Totnes is taking newly registered patients and that it takes a whole day on public transport to go to and to be treated by an NHS dentist, which is not possible for many people? Would it help if we ring-fenced the dentistry part of the primary care trust budget to relocate dentists into south Devon?

I know that there are problems of access in south Devon because of rurality. If one dentist leaves a town or village, it can mean that people cannot get registered. That is why we are putting in dental support teams across the country where there are still access problems and the hon. Gentleman's area will of course be considered for that. I hope that he will support the Bill that I mentioned to ensure that primary care trusts can commission dental services in the way that he suggests.