HC Deb 27 October 1999 vol 336 cc1004-5
4. Mr. Martyn Jones (Clwyd, South)

What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health about the pay, recruitment and retention of NHS dentists in Wales. [94076]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. David Hanson)

I have had no discussions with the Secretary of State for Health on those issues. When considering the annual pay settlements for NHS staff, the pay review bodies will take evidence from the Assembly, along with the Department of Health and other devolved Administrations.

Mr. Jones

I welcome the Prime Minister's statement that everyone in the UK will have access to NHS dentistry. Will my hon. Friend therefore meet his colleagues in the Department of Health and the Assembly, in order that my constituents can get access to NHS dental services as soon as possible?

Mr. Hanson

Like my hon. Friend, I welcome the Prime Minister's announcement of greater access to dentists throughout the United Kingdom. I have had discussions with my colleagues in the Assembly, who are keen to take forward plans for improved dental services in Wales. That is in marked contrast to the failure of the previous Tory Government to provide adequate dental services throughout Wales and the United Kingdom. People in Wales will have access to NHS services, thanks to the Assembly and the support of central Government.

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the principal problems with dentistry is the number of new dentists entering the service? Will he tell the House what steps he is taking in Wales, and what steps the Government are taking elsewhere, to encourage more people to enter the dental profession, and thus to serve the large number of people who do not have access to dentists?

Mr. Hanson

The UK Government are taking steps to encourage the provision of additional dentists for the community at large. The Assembly is responsible for that matter in Wales and it has earmarked additional funds of £10 million to ensure that there is greater access to dental services. Under devolution, the situation is complicated: the Assembly is responsible for the day-to-day executive decisions and will take forward its own policies, and the UK Government seek to improve access to dental services as a matter of priority.

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