§ Ms. Walley
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he takes to monitor the effect of National Health Service charges for dental treatment on dental health in Great Britain; and if he will make regular reports on this to the House.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mrs. Edwina Currie)
We conduct dental health surveys of adults and children periodically 182 and the results are reported to the House. The latest one is about to start. The general household survey also monitors dental health every year. The nation's dental health has shown dramatic improvements in recent years and there is no evidence that charges will reverse that trend.
§ Ms. Walley
Is the Minister aware that the Staffordshire local dental committee has written to me expressing its grave concern that those great advances in dental treatment to which she referred may now be jeopardised because of the policy of imposing charges? Will she tell the House how many similar representations she has received from other dental committees in favour of and against her proposals to charge for what was free dental care?
§ Mrs. Currie
I am sure that the Staffordshire local dental committee, like many others which have made representations to us, would also agree that there are other measures, such as fluoridation of water, which we support and will pay for, and cleaning teeth, which will have considerable benefits for dental health. As a matter of fact, every family in this country buys, on average, a tube of toothpaste every fortnight and they do not appear to be deterred by the price.