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Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I add to the good wishes expressed by the noble Baroness, and hope that the Minister will find time for some celebration today, despite the Second Reading of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill.
Many dentists are concerned about the proposals in the Bill to transfer responsibility for dentistry to primary care trusts, on the basis that the funding of dentistry will be much more uncertain, and there is no duty on primary care trusts to ensure universal access to NHS dentistry. How do the Government therefore propose to prevent a continual movement of dentists into the private sector?
Lord Warner: My Lords, we have already taken some initiatives with personal dental services pilots, which now provide about 2 per cent of NHS dentistry and cover nearly 1,000 dentists, who are providing on a salaried basis to patients. The proposals in the Bill are warmly welcomed by the British Dental Association, and we will transfer to the base budgets of primary care trusts the £1.2 billion of financial resources currently held centrally for primary dental services.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, my noble friend has just given the House some interesting informationthat there has been a dramatic increase in the number of dentists available since 1997. If that is the case, why is there a crisis in some parts of the country, such as Cumbria?
Lord Warner: My Lords, the answer to my noble friend is that not all dentists are spending all their time on NHS treatment. Part of the problem with the present remuneration system, which as I recall ran pretty well unchanged under the previous Conservative government, is that the money follows the dentists wherever they happen to locate themselves. That is what we are changing in the Bill that we will be debating today.
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, given the shortage of dentists working in the NHS and the knowledge that it is the younger dentists who tend to work in the NHS, are the Government taking any measures to avoid penalising those dental schools that find themselves over-supplied with people for the first year as a result of the high level of achievement at A-levels, where all the students have achieved the entry requirements?
Lord Warner: My Lords, a working group is considering the whole issue of workforce planning, and we shall make its report available in the not-too-distant future. That may be one of the issues that the group considers but, if not, I shall check and write to the noble Baroness.
Lord Colwyn: My Lords, would the Minister agree that the provision of dental services is very much dependent on those who serve? When is the English workforce review, which was promised and announced by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, in 2001, likely to be finalised and reported?
Earl Howe: My Lords, may I add my good wishes to the noble Lord alongside those of other Members of the House? Some four years ago, the Prime Minister, in his party conference speech, said that everyone would be able to see an NHS dentist within two years. Can the Minister say what percentage of adults in England and Wales are now registered with an NHS dentist?
Lord Warner: My Lords, I cannot give an exact figure, but I think that it is worth recalling that the Prime Minister's pledge has led to many of the current reforms which we will be debating further in the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill. However, our report suggests that about 90 per cent of the callers to NHS Direct are being advised of available sources of NHS dentistry within locally agreed standards and that about 16,000 people a month are taking up that advice and getting an NHS dentist.
Baroness Greengross: My Lords, can the Minister assure us that as the availability of dentists in the local NHS improves, older people and those who wear dentures will not be excluded? As people get older their
Lord Warner: My Lords, the changes which are being introduced will enable primary care trusts to organise and fund the dental services that their localities need. So if there is a very large number of elderly people, they will be able to put in place a suitable NHS dental service.
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that relatively positive response. However, Canada has just lost its Grand Prix. Ours could go the same way, with disastrous consequences for our very successful motorsport industry. Can the Minister assure the House this afternoon that urgent action will be taken to secure the British Grand Prix?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Astor, is asking me about action that will be taken, but action has been taken. As he will know, after his Unstarred Question last October, we set up a motorsport competitiveness panel which has brought together all of those interested in motorsport. The panel reported in July and its report was well received. The Department of Trade and Industry has provided funding for a motorsport development board, and of course the retention of the Grand Prix is one of its objectives.
Lord Corbett of Castle Vale: My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that as important as motorsport is to those who follow motorsport activities, the Government recognise that the research and development undertaken by the industry, particularly in engine technology, is applicable also to the mass motor car industry, and therefore helps to underpin that vital part of our manufacturing base?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes, my Lords, that is certainly trueit is, again, one of the conclusions from the motorsport competitiveness panel. The question of favourable tax treatment for research and development in the motorsport industry is one of the matters on which the competitiveness panel reported and about which the development board will be making recommendations to the Treasury.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I think that every speaker in the dinner-hour debate last October gave the figures: about £3.5 billion andalthough it is quite difficult to calculate50,000 jobs. Although the figures have undoubtedly changed since then, the sport is clearly of great importance to our economy, which is why the Department of Trade and Industry has taken such positive and widely welcomed action.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Government have stepped in directly with funding. The Government put an extra £8 million into the A43 bypass specifically for that purpose, and of course the total funding for that is £28 million. If the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is asking about the infrastructure of Silverstone itself, then I would say that certainly there are issues about the quality of the pit stops and spectator and entertainment facilities there. However, the motorsport industry is not poor. I cannot say that it would be right for Sport England nationally to contribute to that.
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