No date has been set for the introduction of the long-awaited new dental contract – 18 months after the first trials got underway
The department of health (DH) was asked for progress on the shake-up, as it prepared to launch the second wave of pilot schemes, which began at the start of April.
But Norman Lamb, a health minister, told MPs: 'No date has been set for the introduction of a new dental contract.
'The government made a commitment to introducing a new contract and said there would be thorough preparation including piloting.
'Piloting intended to test key elements needed to design that new contract began in 2011. A second wave of pilots was announced in October 2012 and will be in place from April 2013.
'This second stage will allow for further testing of key elements of any new contract.'
The comments, in a written parliamentary answer, came as 29 further practices began testing out aspects of the proposed new contract – alongside 70 from the first trials.
DH says the second stage will see the trials expanded and 'inventive new techniques to improve dental care spreading to new areas of the country'.
There will be a stronger focus on preventive care, greater care with the toothbrush and paying dentists according to health results, rather than the number of courses of treatment they perform.
Patients will also be given a rating of green, amber or red, following an oral health assessment – and given advice on how to improve their dental health.
And the IT system to help support the new system has also been improved for the second wave of trials, ministers said.
Last year, John Milne, chairman of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, described the design of a fair payment structure for the new contract as a massive challenge.
By parliamentary correspondent Rob Merrick