HC Deb 20 May 1954 vol 527 c2266
20. Mr. F. Willey

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the inconvenience and suffering occasionally caused by the requirement of the production of the patient's National Health Service number to those seeking urgent dental treatment, he will allow some relaxation in such cases.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

My right hon. Friend is not aware of any serious inconvenience resulting from this requirement.

Mr. Willey

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that people are not accustomed to carrying their National Health Service number about with them, that they cannot be presumed to be expecting to have toothache during the day and that I have had several complaints from my own constituency? If it is possible to allow relaxation in an emergency situation, does the hon. Lady think that her right hon. Friend could permit it?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

May I make the position clear? The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that, with 200,000 cases coming in to the Dental Estimates Board a week, obviously there must be some system of numbering. Certainly the system works more smoothly when the dentists are able to obtain the number. However, a patient need not be denied treatment in an emergency because he cannot produce his number, nor does the board withhold authorisation of payment because the number has not been provided. However, I do not want that to be misread by anyone so as to lead them to believe that the numbers are not helpful and necessary for the smooth and quick working of the system.