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Nhs Dentistry

Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what interim measures he plans to introduce to maintain the number of dentists offering dentistry services on the NHS; and if he will make a statement. [113275]

We are legislating for far-reaching reform of national health service dental services to improve the service for dentists and patients. The Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill proposes that each primary care trust be given a duty to provide, or secure the provision of, primary dental services in its area to the extent that it considers reasonable to do so and be given the financial resources to do this. Until this new framework is in place and to support primary care trusts in preparing for this, we plan to put in place a support team for NHS dentistry to develop interim measures of the kind referred to. The team will work closely with strategic health authorities and primary care trusts to identify which areas are most in need and to ensure that there is a rapid response to difficulties experienced by dentists working at the frontline of the NHS. New incentive directions will be made shortly to provide the necessary legal powers for PCTs to provide assistance and support to dentists, until the legislation now in Parliament provides the framework for trusts to commission NHS primary dental services themselves.Primary care trusts will be able to help dental practices in a number of ways, for example when they are threatened by difficulties over practice premises. They will also be able to pay to increase the total amount of time that a practice devotes to NHS general dental services. It is also planned to build on existing experience of personal dental services pilot contracting, to enable committed dentists to work in the NHS without having to use the statement of dental remuneration to earn fees for items of service. This so-called treadmill has been a major source of complaint from the profession and will be abolished by the legislation before the House.

Personal dental services: Number of patients treated1, year ending March 2003—pilots in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire,

Wiltshire, Somerset and Worcestershire primary care trusts
PilotNumber of patients treated

year ending March 2003

(thousand)
PCTs in list covered by pilot
Avon7.3Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol South and West
Gloucestershire9.9Cheltenham and Tewkesbury, West Gloucestershire, Cotswold and Vale
Oxfordshire9.5Cherwell Vale, North East Oxfordshire, Oxford City, South East Oxfordshire, South

West Oxfordshire
Somerset4.8Somerset Coast, Mendip, South Somerset, Taunton Deane
Swindon7.2West Wiltshire, Swindon, Kennet and North Wiltshire
Worcestershire10.4Wyre Forest, South Worcestershire
1 Number of individual patients treated.

In addition to the above, the support team will help focus national plans on local challenges where workforce availability is the key issue. As well as investing in supporting dentists and existing dental premises as part of a programme to encourage maximum NHS participation by returners to the work force, new graduates and overseas dentists, the team will support work to reinforce the existing retention and returning scheme and to work with the existing international recruitment scheme to transfer its experience for recruitment of dentists internationally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients have access to dental treatment on the NHS in (a) Gloucester, (b) Gloucestershire, (c) Oxfordshire, (d) Wiltshire, (e) Somerset and (f) Worcestershire. [113743]

Information on the number of patients registered with a national health service dentist for general dental services in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset and Worcestershire as at 28 February 2003, is shown in the table.

General dental services: Number of patients registered with a

dentist at 28 February 2003 in Gloucester, Gloucestershire,

Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset and Worcestershire primary

care trusts
Primary care trustNumber of patients registered1 with a

dentist at 28 February 2003

(thousand)
Somerset637.7
Gloucestershire2319.8
Wiltshire260.4
Oxfordshire188.0
Worcestershire258.2
1 The GDS registration period lasts for a 15 month period from

the patients last attendance at the dentist.
2 Includes Gloucester
Information on the number of patients treated under the personal dental services scheme in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset and Worcestershire PCT areas for the year ending March 2003, is shown in the table. The personal dental service does not require the patient to be registered before commencing treatment. Additionally unregistered patients can gain access to NHS treatment though dental access teams in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, and Somerset.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many dental practices accept new NHS patients in the constituencies of (a) Cleethorpes, (b) Grimsby, (c) Scunthorpe, (d) Brigg and Goole, (e) Gainsborough, (f) Louth and Horncastle and (g) Hull, West and Hessle. [111474]

The number of dental practices accepting new national health service patients changes frequently. Up to date information about which dentists are accepting new NHS registrations is available from the relevant primary care trust (PCT).I recognise that access to NHS dentistry in Cleethorpes and the surrounding area can be difficult. It is the intention of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill, introduced on 12 March, to better match the provision of primary dental services with local oral health needs through local commissioning of the service. This would enable local flexibility to be built into the system, allowing PCTs to address local access issues as they arise. It is anticipated that the availability of NHS dentistry will be more predictable under the new system.