HL Deb 11 May 2004 vol 661 cc31-2WA
Lord Colwyn

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether routine National Health Service dental treatment will be equated with medical treatment and be "free at the point of delivery" when the new dental base contract is implemented in 2005. [HL2523]

Lord Warner The Government remain committed to ensuring that help is available to those who need it on charges. Currently around a quarter of all adults accessing general dental services pay no charges at all or pay a reduced rate, with the following groups being exempt from charges, that is a patient who was under 18 years; was under 19 and receiving qualifying full-time education; was pregnant; or had given birth within the previous 12 months.

Help with health cost are available under the low income scheme to others. We have no plans to change these arrangements.

A working group under the chairmanship of the Department of Health's Director for Patients and the Public, Harry Cayton, was established to advise on a suitable structure for dental charges once a new contract reflecting the provisions of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 is implemented, breaking the link between the fee paid to dentists and the patient charge as is the case currently. We will be publishing our response to the Patient Charges Working Group in due course.