HC Deb 30 June 1998 vol 315 c132
2. Mr. Peter Bradley (The Wrekin)

What steps he is taking to meet the dental health needs of the people of Shropshire. [46602]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. Alan Milburn)

Seven investing-in-dentistry funding requests from Shropshire health authority have been approved to make national health service dental services available to thousands in the area. Access to NHS dentistry should also benefit from the approval of a first-wave personal dental service pilot in Shropshire, due to commence on 1 October 1998.

Mr. Bradley

Many people will benefit from the £19 million that the Government are putting into NHS dentistry. Some 20,000 people in Shropshire—my constituents, as well as those of the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Gill)—will benefit from the schemes. However, can my hon. Friend give any hope to the remaining 36,000 people in Shropshire of the 56,000 who lost access to NHS dentistry when the previous Government reneged on fee agreements with NHS dentists? Will those people have their access to NHS dentistry restored in future years?

Mr. Milburn

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's support. I assure him that we shall continue to do everything that we can to improve access to NHS dentistry in Shropshire and the rest of the country. I can report that, so far, we have approved 140 investing-in-dentistry projects, giving extra access to NHS dental care to 250,000 patients who would not otherwise have had it. We are doing that by offering the NHS dentist a grant in exchange for continuing to treat NHS patients. In other words, this Government are bringing back into the health service dentists whom the previous Government drove out.