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Armed Forces: Dental Services

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 27 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make an assessment of the performance of mobile dental facilities introduced for service personnel in December 2008. (291514)

The Defence Dental Services did not introduce any new mobile dental facilities for military personnel in December 2008. Where fixed dental surgeries are not available, the three armed forces dental branches have used portable dental units for the last 30 years or more. They are mainly employed on land operations or on smaller HM ships that do not routinely carry a dental team. The Royal Naval Dental Services have also used mobile dental surgeries in HM dockyards for many years. These mobile dental facilities are currently being refurbished.

More generally, the Service Personnel Command Paper (Cm 7424) noted the problems encountered by service families in accessing dental services, and stated that the Government would address these in a variety of ways, including the provision of mobile services. However, when considering a suitable location for trialling mobile services, it became clear that there was a lack of information about the real extent of difficulties in getting access to dentistry, and most reported cases could be resolved through advice and advocacy from local service and welfare organisations. The Ministry of Defence and the Department of Health concluded there was no requirement for a trial at this time, but work continues to gather evidence of any geographical problems, and should the need for mobile services become apparent this solution will be reconsidered.