HC Deb 17 June 1963 vol 679 cc18-9
25. Mr. Hornby

asked the Minister of Health what is the average number of requests per week received by the Dental Estimates Board from dentists asking permission to carry out treatment; what proportion of these requests is granted; and what proportion is turned down or amended.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Bernard Braine)

About 35,000; over 99 per cent.; less than 1 per cent.

Mr. Hornby

In view of those figures, will my hon. Friend look at the quantity of work which is now being discharged by the Dental Estimates Board and see whether some of this very large volume of work could be more usefully discharged by those who have direct dealings with their patients?

Mr. Braine

These figures relate, of course, to approval of treatment. The 99 per cent, includes cases where the proposed treatment is approved but the fee allowed by the Board is lower than that requested. My hon. Friend will know that in such cases the dentist may appeal against the reduced fee, and he is not prevented from carrying on with the treatment meanwhile. As with any financial control procedure, it is a mistake to assume that, in its absence, the amount of unnecessary work would be so small.

Mr. K. Robinson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there have been a number of complaints from dental practitioners about refusal of permission for general an aesthetics? Is not this a matter which should be left to the clinical judgment of the dentist who, after all, is the only person in possession of the facts?

Mr. Braine

That is another question. If the hon. Gentleman will put it down, I shall be happy to answer it.

26. Mr. Hornby

asked the Minister of Health how many people are employed by the Dental Estimates Board.

Mr. Braine

One thousand two hundred and thirty-nine including 165 part-time.

Mr. Hornby

Will my hon. Friend look at this question again both on the ground of the cost of operation and on the ground of the treatment of patients?

Mr. Braine

My hon. Friend may be interested to know that the cost of salaries and wages of the Board's staff represents about 1.5 per cent. of the total fees authorised. The Estimates Committee in its recent Report expressed the view that the Board's day-to-day business was carried out with considerable efficiency.

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