Health: Dentistry

House of Lords written question – answered on 25th March 2014.

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Photo of Lord Lea of Crondall Lord Lea of Crondall Labour

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 19 March (HL 5833), what further progress they have made on the recommendations of the Government Response to the Office of Fair Trading Market Study into Dentistry, and in particular point 5 in the Conclusions of that document, regarding the new dental contracts and the role of private practice.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) study recommended a number of actions for the Government. These included improving patient communications and easing entry to the dental market.

The actions taken to improve communications with patients were set out in the Government response published in August 2012. The OFT report recommended that the actions on easing market entry should be considered as part of the work to reform the dental contract. Paragraph five of the conclusions of the Government response specifically addressed the recommendation that the Government should consider, as part of its work to reform the existing dental contractual arrangements, the introduction of the system of any qualified provider (AQP) in primary care dentistry.

The Government is committed to considering AQP in designing a new contractual system. The reform programme is currently piloting key elements needed to design a new contractual system. During the design stage this will be fully considered.

The OFT recommendation on AQP does not cover private practice. There are no plans to change the existing arrangements for private practice. Most National Health Service primary care dentistry is provided by independent contractors. A contractor providing NHS services under AQP would, as under the current system, be free to provide private care alongside their NHS provision.

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