HC Deb 09 September 2004 vol 424 cc1364-5W
Mr. Liddell-Grainger

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many dentists left the NHS in each year from 2000–01. [186477]

Ms Rosie Winterton

Information on the total number of dentists leaving the general dental service (GDS) or personal dental service (PDS) is shown in the table. The main reasons for the dentists leaving were retirement and short-term career breaks.

General dental service and personal dental service: number of leavers at 30 September each year, England and Wales
2000 1,228
2001 1,257
2002 1,374
2003 1,256
Dental Practice Board.

The numbers of GDS and PDS dentists have increased from 16,722 at December 1997 to 19,278 at December 2003; an increase of over 2,500.

Keith Vaz

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the latest average waiting time to have an infected wisdom tooth removed on the NHS is; and what targets he has set to improve waiting times for the removal of wisdom teeth. [187136]

Ms Rosie Winterton

In 2003, the mean waiting time was 91 days for extractions at national health service hospitals. In year 2000, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence advised that the surgical removal of impacted wisdom teeth should be limited to patients with evidence of pathology. Implementation of this advice and the expansion of the dental workforce announced by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Health, on 16 July should reduce the pressures on hospital dental departments.

Mr. Burstow

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department spent on NHS dentistry in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [187293]

Ms Rosie Winterton

The general dental service (GDS) is currently managed on a national basis as a non-discretionary service. Expenditure is not predetermined by allocations but is driven largely by patient demand and the activity of dentists. At present, neither primary care trusts nor dentists are allocated any specific GDS budgets or quotas. Actual spend since 1997 to date has been:

Expenditure (£ million)
1997–98 959
1998–99 1,022
1999–2000 1,058
2000–01 1,130
2001–02 1,202
2002–03 1,263

Expenditure figures represent the Government's net spend on GDS after taking account of the contribution to costs from dental charges paid by patients. Figures from 1997–98 to 1999–2000 are cash based. Figures for 2001–02 onwards are resource based. Figures from 1998–99 include expenditure on new personal dental service pilot schemes.

Expenditure figures for 2003—04 are not yet available.

Tom Cox

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proposals his Department has to ensure that when a person requires dental treatment they are clearly informed(a) whether a dental practice provides NHS treatment and (b) what the cost of non-NHS treatment they require will be; and if he will make a statement. [187606]

Ms Rosie Winterton

Since publication of the Office of Fair Trading's report, "The private dentistry market in the UK" (March 2003), we have been working with the General Dental Council (GDC) to strengthen the regulation of private dentistry. The GDC has published "Standards of Dental Practice", which requires that dentists give full information on proposed treatment and costs to patients to enable them to make well-informed decisions on the type of treatment they are to receive. We will also be amending the Dentists Act 1984 to give the GDC new powers to ensure the fitness to practise of dentists and to establish a scheme to investigate and resolve complaints about private dental treatment. The amendments will come into effect early in 2005.

Keith Vaz

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to improve orthodontic departments at NHS hospitals. [187137]

Ms Rosie Winterton

We are undertaking the most fundamental reform of national health service dentistry since the inception of the NHS. The Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 provides the commissioning of general dental services is to be delegated to primary care trusts from October 2005. This will ensure that the developing dental specialities in primary care, including orthodontics, are given the right opportunities to contribute more to NHS patient care. Provision of more specialist dental care in a high street setting will mean that practitioners no longer need to refer patients who could be treated in a primary care setting to hospital. In this way, staff at hospital dental departments will be able to concentrate on more complex treatments.