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House of Commons Hansard
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08 March 2010
Volume 507
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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what percentage of the population in each strategic health authority (SHA) area had access to NHS dental services (a) immediately before the introduction of the 2006 dental contract and (b) at the latest date for which information is available; and what percentage of the population in each SHA area will need to be able to access NHS dentistry in March 2011 in order for primary care trusts to fulfil their duty placed upon them to provide access to all who seek it; [320234]

(2) what his Department's latest estimate is of the level of unmet demand for NHS dental services in each strategic health authority area;

(3) what steps his Department is taking to assist primary care trusts to measure levels of unmet demand for NHS dental services;

(4) what discussions he has had with NHS managers and health professionals on progress in fulfilling the duty placed upon primary care trusts to provide access to NHS dental services for all who seek it;

(5) how many primary care trusts (a) have conducted a baseline mapping exercise and (b) have formulated a delivery plan to deliver access to NHS dental services for all who require it by 2011.

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The proportion of the population registered with a national health service dentist in England, as at 31 March, 1997 to 2006 is available in Annex B of the “NHS Dental Activity and Workforce Report, England: 31 March 2006”. Information is provided by primary care trust (PCT) and by strategic health authority (SHA) where appropriate.

This information is based on the old contractual arrangements which were in place up to and including 31 March 2006. This report, published on 23 August 2006, has already been placed in the Library and is also available on the NHS Information Centre website at:

www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/dwfactivity

Under the new dental contractual arrangements, introduced on 1 April 2006, patients do not have to be registered with an NHS dentist to receive NHS care. The closest equivalent measure to “registration” is the number of patients receiving NHS dental services (“patients seen”) over a 24-month period. However, this is not directly comparable to the registration data for earlier years.

Information on the number of patients seen in the previous 24 months as a percentage of the population, in England, is available in Table D2 of Annex 3 of the “NHS Dental Statistics, Quarter 2: 30 September 2009” report. Information is available at quarterly intervals, from 31 March 2006 to 31 December 2009, and is provided by PCT and SHA.

This report, published on 23 February 2010, has been placed in the Library and is also available on the NHS Information Centre website at:

www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/dentalstats0910q2

The commitment to delivering access to NHS dental care for all who actively seek it by March 2011 was set by the NHS in January 2009. It is for each PCT to determine local levels of unmet demand and ensure that sufficient services are commissioned to ensure that they are able to meet the commitment. This commitment is reflected in the NHS Operating Framework.

The Department's Performance Delivery Team have regular reviews with SHAs on progress against all the priorities, including the 2011 dental goal, set out in the NHS Operating Framework. The Dental Access Programme, set up to support the NHS in delivering the 2011 goal, works closely with PCTs to support them in commissioning and managing dental services most appropriately and effectively.

All PCTs have estimated the number of people who would use NHS dental care if it was available and have delivery plans in place to ensure demand is met by, at the latest, March 2011. In the first quarter of 2010-11 the national GP Patient survey will include questions on whether individuals have sought NHS dental care and if so whether they were successful in getting an appointment. The results of the survey will be available later this summer to allow PCTs to refine their plans as necessary. They will be published in July.