The House of Commons Health Select Committee published its report on dental services on 2 July 2008. We made an interim response on 7 October 2008 and said we would look at what actions would have the most immediate and effective impact on access. We are today laying before Parliament the Command Paper that sets out these further actions.
As set out in our interim response, we are confident that the new dental commissioning arrangements introduced in 2006 give primary care trusts greater powers and flexibility to secure high-quality local dental services that meet the needs of local people. New services are opening all over the country and there were 655 more dentists working in the National Health Service in 2007-08 than in the previous year.
But, as we indicated in October, we know there is more to do and we said then that we would work with professional and patient groups to review how we and the NHS could achieve the maximum benefits for patients from the 2006 reforms.
This further response reports on the results of this work. In particular, it sets out the scope of the independent review of dentistry in England that we have commissioned and the work we said we would undertake with strategic health authorities to agree how to secure rapid improvements in availability of NHS dental services.
We are determined to address the long-standing problems of access to NHS dental services and to secure a sustainable system of high-quality NHS dental services that reflect the overall vision of high quality care for all set out in the conclusions of the NHS next stage review.