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Dental Services: Barnsley

Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 20 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health on how many occasions between 2003 and April 2006 her Department received representations from Barnsley Primary Care Trust on the adequacy of funding for orthodontic services in Barnsley. (138735)

The Department worked closely with a number of primary care trusts (PCTs) in the South Yorkshire area between 2004 and 2006 to help develop local dental services and pilot new ways of working, and in that process had a number of contacts with officials from both Barnsley PCT and the former South Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority. The question of longer term activity and funding levels for specialist orthodontic practices was one of the issues raised in those contacts.

Under the legislation governing the transition to new local commissioning arrangements from 1 April 2006, dentists with general dental services contracts, including orthodontists, were guaranteed new contracts based on their national health service earnings during the 12-month reference period October 2004 to September 2005. The Departments advice to PCTs was that, where practices’ more recent levels of activity exceeded those reflected in the reference period earnings, PCTs should ensure as a minimum that funding was available to complete treatment for all patients under treatment as at 31 March 2006 but that it was a local decision for the PCT, or the PCTs across the wider health economy, based on an assessment of local needs, whether to commit the additional investment needed to sustain the higher levels of activity in the longer term.

We understand that Barnsley PCT has recently completed a review of local orthodontic treatment needs and intends to commission an additional 64 orthodontic courses of treatment annually to reflect the outcome of this needs assessment.