New contract must work for practices, Minister tells APPG for Dentistry

10 July 2013

It is important that any new dental contract in England must work for dental practices and support their functioning as businesses; Health Minister Earl Howe stressed at a meeting of MPs at Westminster this week (10 July 2013). It must also support better access and health outcomes for patients and be cost effective, he said. Earl Howe was speaking at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dentistry. Outlining the Government’s view of the progress of the pilots for new arrangements, he said that he was “chuffed” with the way it had been embraced by the profession. The pilots had recently entered a second phase, he said, with an extra 20 sites being added to the 70 practices already piloting new arrangements. The primary purpose of this phase is to refine the operation of the care pathways, he explained, adding that elements of a new system, rather than a completed new system, are being tested. The Minister also heralded the early progress of the new NHS arrangements in regard to dentistry, expressing confidence in the placing of responsibility for all NHS dental care with NHS England and the structuring of the team responsible for dental public health at Public Health England. The Minister also referred to ongoing work by NHS England on reviews of oral surgery and dental care for vulnerable and hard-to-reach patients. A task group looking at the latter issue had met for the first time, he said.

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