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Nhs Services (Gloucestershire)

Volume 408: debated on Tuesday 1 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on NHS dentistry in Gloucestershire. [121874]

The Government are committed to providing national health service dentistry for all who need and seek it. We recognise, however, that there are some areas of the country, including parts of Gloucestershire, where it is difficult to find a NHS dentist.In the forthcoming Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill, the Government proposes to legislate for far-reaching reform of NHS dental services. It is proposed that each primary care trust (PCT) 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. This will give PCTs the flexibility to address access issues in their areas. Dentists who contract with a PCT will have a secure income in return for making a longer-term commitment to the NHS.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the contribution of hospices in Gloucestershire to the work of the NHS. [121876]

Ministers recognise the excellent work done by all hospices in supporting people with terminal or life threatening illnesses. We also recognise the importance of improving palliative care for all patients and that is why we pledged in the NHS Cancer Plan to invest an additional £50 million per annum in specialist palliative care, including hospices, by 2004. This extra £50 million is to help tackle inequalities in access to specialist palliative care and to enable the National Health Service to increase its contribution to the cost hospices incur in providing agreed levels of services.A £50 million per annum central budget has been set up for specialist palliative care for 2003–04 to 2005–06. A joint NHS/voluntary sector national partnership group, charged with ensuring the £50 million is spent wisely, is assessing investment plans from the local cancer networks for the use of the central budget. Once the plans are approved, allocations will be made to networks.Information on the contribution of hospices in Gloucestershire is available from the chief executive of the Avon Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Strategic Health Authority.