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The amendments make minor and technical changes to section 28M of the National Health Act 1977, ''Persons eligible to enter into GDS contracts''; in particular to the conditions that are to apply to those who may become contractors under a GDS contract.
General dental services may be provided by a dental practitioner, a dental corporation or a partnership including at least one dental practitioner, and any of those people listed in section 28M(2)(b)(i) to (iii). Amendment No. 616 changes the wording of section 28M(2)(b)(iii) to make clear that health care professionals who work for the health service in any capacity are eligible to seek GDS contracts as a member of such a partnership. The existing wording might have implied that they had to have a contract to provide services in the health service when, in fact, it does not matter whether they are working for the health service as employees, contractors or on any other basis. The important point is that they are engaged in providing services for the health service. That was always our intention and I hope that is now put beyond all doubt.
The amendments would add existing providers under a GDS or PDS contract to the list of potential providers of GDS contracts. Otherwise, it is possible that providers—such as practice managers, who are parties to GDS contracts—would not be able to seek
new contracts because they may not fall into any of the existing categories. We want to avoid that situation.
The amendment also makes provision to cover the situation where a person, such as a practice manager, was a provider of GDS, but that contract terminated before a new contract was agreed. The exercise of the power will allow such a person to enter into a new contract for a prescribed period—for example, three or four months or longer—after the ending of the first contract. That is notwithstanding the fact that he is not currently a provider, and is simply an avoidance of that provision.
Amendment No. 617 enables regulations to cover the situation where there is a change in a partnership whose members hold a GDS contract; for example, where one of the partners leaves or a new partner joins the practice. It is intended to avoid an unnecessary renegotiation of the contract.
Amendment No. 618 alters the definition of a dental corporation in line with that which appears elsewhere in the 1977 Act. That was an oversight. The purpose of amendment No. 620 is to adjust the definition of an NHS employee in relation to a GDS contract to ensure consistency with the same definition that applies in relation to primary dental services.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 617, in
clause 159, page 76, line 27, at end insert
(iv) an individual who is providing services under a general dental services contract or in accordance with section 28C arrangements or arrangements under section 17C of the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978, or has so provided them within such period as may be prescribed.'.
No. 618, in
clause 159, page 76, line 27, at end insert—
'( ) Regulations may make provision as to the effect, in relation to a general dental services contract entered into by individuals practising in partnership, of a change in the membership of the partnership.'.
No. 619, in
clause 159, page 76, line 29, leave out from 'which' to end of line 31 and insert
', in accordance with the provisions of Part 4 of the Dentists Act 1984, is entitled to carry on the business of dentistry'.
No. 620, in
clause 159, page 76, line 37, after 'NHS employee' insert
'has the same meaning as it has in section 28D above in the case of an agreement under which primary dental services are provided; and'.—[Mr. Hutton.]
Clause 159, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.