To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the Starting Well Core initiative in getting hard-to-reach children to attend NHS dental services for the first time.
12 February 2019
The ‘Starting Well’ programme, was developed to reach out to families with young children in 13 high need areas who were not under the care of a dentist. The first schemes began in spring 2018.
Alongside this, NHS England has developed a complementary ‘Starting Well Core’ offer, supported by the Chief Dental Officer, which commissioners can use and fund locally based on their own assessment of need. This enables areas not involved in the original scheme to commission and fund similar approaches based on their assessment of local needs.
‘Starting Well Core’ is in its initial roll-out phase. Information on the number of practices involved will be made available centrally in due course as the scheme is taken up. NHS England advises that the areas adopting this scheme include London, West Midlands, Shropshire and Staffordshire, Cheshire and Merseyside and Greater Manchester.
NHS England advises that central costs for this scheme have focussed on developing resources, including patient information, for local commissioners who wish to use the ‘Starting Well Core’ approach. NHS England advises that to date the central spend is estimated at around £212,000. Information is not held centrally on any additional local funding directed to this scheme, including funding to increase dental capacity through this scheme. As the scheme is still being rolled out, it is, therefore, too early to assess its impact on attracting children to National Health Service dental services for the first time and no estimate has been made of the number of children who have visited an NHS dentist because of the Starting Well Core scheme, who would not have otherwise accessed NHS dental services.