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Monday, 18 May, 1998, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
NHS dental schemes get teeth
Person getting dental check-up
The government is injecting 600,000 into dental health
The government is to spend 600,000 on 15 NHS pilot schemes in a bid to get more people to go to the dentist.

The schemes, which will involve over 150 NHS dentists, will promote innovative ways of getting people to have regular check-ups.

They will include drop-in services for people who are not registered with an NHS dentist, more flexible patterns of pay for dentists and programmes for promoting better oral health in schools.

Some schemes will promote general oral health awareness, while others will develop better specialist services for patients, such as orthodontic care.

Announcing the 15 successful health authority bids, Health Minister Alan Milburn said: "The new pilot schemes will blaze a trail for modern and innovative dental services. They will improve access and provide better, more patient-focused services.

"The pilots are an important step in the government's efforts to rebuild NHS dentistry," he added.

The British Dental Association has given a cautious welcome to the pilots.

"They may not necessarily be suitable for all dentists, but they may work well for those practices that wish to devise a scheme that suits their practice needs and tackles problems faced by their patients locally," said a spokeswoman.

The pilots will be launched in October under the NHS (Primary Care) Act 1997. They are part of the 'Investing in Dentistry' initiative, announced by the government last September.

It will provide 19 million to tackle perceived health inequalities in dental treatment. Since September, dentists have already pledged to bring an extra 250,000 patients into NHS dental care.

The government is to publish its new strategy for NHS dentistry later this year. It will focus on five areas, including reducing oral health inequalities and improving access to NHS dentists.

Under the Conservatives, NHS dental check-ups were restricted.

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