Headlines: September 20th, 2000

NHS dentistry is to face a radical scale and polish in a hundred million-pound investment which the Government says will improve the quality of dental care and empower patients. The package, built out of the NHS Plan, aims to deliver the Prime Minister’s commitment to make NHS dentistry available again to all who need it.To combat existing problems patients can experience in finding an NHS dentist, health authorities will, for the first time, be able to commission contracts for dentistry locally, just as they can for other kinds of primary care. Patients will be able to use NHS Direct to find an NHS dentist, and are promised better and more easily accessible information about their dental treatment in the surgery, including itemised treatment plans and receipts, so that they can be sure exactly what treatment they are getting and whether it is being provided by the NHS or privately.

There is more money to equip dentist surgeries, and a fund for rewarding dentists who are committed to the NHS. The implementation of the strategy will be overseen by a ‘tooth czar’ – Dame Margaret Seward – a former President of the General Dental Council. The strategy is available on the Department of Health website at www.doh.gov.