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Dental Services

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 29 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that patients are informed of their entitlement to treatment by an NHS dentist. (165279)

Primary care trusts (PCTs) are responsible for ensuring that their local residents and people seeking services within their area are aware of the range of national health service services available. NHS dental services are a mainstream NHS service. Any United Kingdom resident (or visiting European Union resident under reciprocal arrangements) who is eligible for NHS care is therefore eligible for NHS dental services. PCTs’ methods of promoting NHS dental services range from leaflets to targeted local advertising campaigns. Most also run dental helplines providing advice on how to access services locally. The location and other details of NHS dental practices can be accessed nationally via NHS Direct and NHS Choices or from the local PCT, often through Patient Advisory and Liaison Services.

The Department works with the local NHS continually to improve patient communication. Improving the range and depth of information available via NHS Choices (previously NHS.UK) is one part of this ongoing work. The NHS Choices website is currently being enhanced to include a central contact number for each PCT through which potential patients can access information about the availability of services in their chosen area, in addition to the existing dental query helpline and out of hours contact numbers. We expect this improvement to the existing service to be available later this year, and further improvements will follow next year. The site can be accessed at:

For those unable to access the information in this way, the information is more widely accessible through computerised information systems in libraries and other communal places. It is also anticipated that PCTs will continue to promote the availability of and entitlement to services in more traditional ways, using literature placed in other primary care premises such as general practices and pharmacies, in libraries, and in Yellow Pages wherever possible.