HC Deb 31 March 1960 vol 620 cc1483-5
7. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Education if he is aware of the deterioration of the school dental service in Barking, Essex; and what steps he is taking, in the light of the findings of the McNair Committee, to stimulate the recruitment of dental officers in this Borough and in other places in which there has been a simultaneous increase in the number of dentists in private practice and in the incidence of dental caries among schoolchildren.

Mr. K. Thompson

Yes, Sir, and I understand that the local education authority is doing all it can to recruit additional dentists. My right hon. and learned Friend, the Minister of Health, has in hand the implementation of the recommendations of the McNair Committee designed to relieve the overall shortage of dentists.

Mr. Driberg

Is the hon. Gentle-man aware that of 1,000 school children inspected in this borough last year, nearly three-quarters were found to need dental treatment, but that the last of the full-time dental officers left last year? Can he consult urgently with the Minister of Health to see what can be done about it?

Mr. K. Thompson

Yes, we share the hon. Gentleman's concern about the situation. We are in constant consultation with my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Health and we will do what we can. At the same time, I hope that parents will take what steps they can to see that their children get treatment by private dentists.

Mr. McCann

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in spite of the acute shortage, school dentists are still being called up for National Service? Will he consult his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour to see whether, in the interests of the children, such call-ups can be cancelled?

Mr. K. Thompson

That had not been brought to my notice, but I will look into it.

Mr. Greenwood

Are the facts given by my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) peculiar to Essex, or typical of the country as a whole?

Mr. K. Thompson

They vary in intensity, but I am sorry to say that they are typical of the country as a whole.

13. Mr. Janner

asked the Minister of Education whether he is aware that there are more than 62,000 school children in Leicestershire and only five school dentists, two of Whom are part-time; and what steps he proposes to take in order to deal with the position.

Mr. K. Thompson

My right hon. Friend shares the concern of the hon. Member that the number of school dentists in Leicestershire compared with the number of school children is considerably below the average for the country. The local education authority is doing its utmost to attract more dentists to the service.

Mr. Janner

What are the Government doing about it? I appreciate that local authorities are doing the best they can, but is it not time that the Government saw to it that this terrible slackness in providing a sufficient number of dentists for school children was put right?

Mr. K. Thompson

The shortage of school dentists is a reflection of the general shortage of dentists. The best we can do is to make sure that we make the best use of the dentists we have while steps are being taken to improve the supply.