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Volume 457: debated on Wednesday 21 February 2007

7. What recent discussions he has had with Welsh Assembly Government Ministers on the provision of dentistry in Wales. (121347)

I regularly meet the Assembly Health Minister to discuss a range of issues including the provision of dentistry in Wales. The Assembly Government are investing record amounts in NHS dentistry in Wales and are delivering real improvements in expanding access to dental services to all Welsh patients.

Given that less than half the adult population in Wales is registered with an NHS dentist, and the British Dental Association Wales has said that many dentists are unable to offer care to NHS dentistry patients because they do not have the funding, how does the Minister think it will be possible to fulfil the First Minister’s pledge that everybody who wants NHS dentistry in Wales should be able to get it by 31 March this year?

The investment is going in. Already this year there is an extra £30 million going into NHS dentists and several brand-new practices have been opened. For example, in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire two new independent practices, funded directly by the local health board, are now providing 24,000 patient places. That is the investment being made, but it would be put at risk if we ended up with a coalition led by the Tory party. The investment goes in under a Labour Government: it would be threatened under a Tory coalition.