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NHS Dentistry

Volume 492: debated on Tuesday 12 May 2009

11. What his latest assessment is of levels of access to NHS dentistry in (a) the Isle of Wight and (b) England. (274108)

In the 24 months ending September 2008, 66,250 people saw an NHS dentist on the Isle of Wight. The equivalent figure for England was 27.1 million. We have increased dental funding to more than £2 billion and made it a national priority in the NHS operating framework that primary care trusts commission services to ensure access for anyone who seeks help in finding an NHS dentist. The NHS is planning that all PCTs will deliver this by March 2011.

I thank the right hon. Lady very much. There was an improvement in the availability of dentists on the island until the NHS abolished registration. We now have figures that show the number of treatments, rather than the number of individual patients getting treatment. Will she explain why the figures are now taking this form, rather than the old form?

On the Isle of Wight, the number of people getting access to, and treatment from, NHS dentists increased from 26.2 per cent. to 38.1 per cent. between March 2006 and September 2008. In fact, that is the biggest percentage increase in the country. The Isle of Wight is doing precisely as the Government have advised. It is looking at local need, commissioning the appropriate services and delivering that access. I understand that the hon. Gentleman would like that process to move faster, but the ring-fenced investment and the plans are in place, and the powers are in place for the PCTs. He has seen a marked improvement in his constituency.