My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The House of Commons Health Select Committee published its report on dental services on 2 July 2008. We are today laying before Parliament the Command Paper setting out the interim government response to the conclusions and recommendations in the report.
We have carefully considered the committee’s recommendations. The new contractual arrangements introduced in 2006 placed a legal duty on primary care trusts (PCTs) to commission dental services to meet local needs. We are confident that the new arrangements provide a better basis for the NHS to commission dental services. New services are opening all over the country and, according to the latest figures, there were 655 more dentists working in the NHS in 2007-08 than in the previous year.
We acknowledge that there remains work to be done. As well as an existing programme of work with PCTs to drive maximum benefits from the new arrangements in terms of access and quality of services, the department has begun work with strategic health authorities to agree the changes that will most rapidly improve access to NHS dentistry.
This work will be complete later this autumn and we will then be in a position to make a fuller response setting out further actions.