HC Deb 27 June 1988 vol 136 c133W
Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what action his Department takes to monitor the service provided by dentists to their patients.

Mrs. Currie

[holding answer 23 June 1988]Monitoring of the general dental service is primarily undertaken by the Dental Estimates Board, which is responsible for the approval of treatment and authorisation of payment. The board may approve treatment or authorise payment only if it is satisfied that that treatment is or was proper and necessary to secure the patient's dental fitness or to maintain dental health, and that it has been completed to a satisfactory standard. In considering requests for its prior approval, or claims for payment for treatment provided, the board may seek further information from the dentist or may ask an officer of the Department's dental reference service to examine the patient. The dental reference is also responsible for checking the quality of treatment provided through the examination of a random sample of patients who have recently received treatment under the general dental service. Dental Officers examined 28,143 patients in 1987–88.

Clause 12 of the Health and Medicines Bill proposes increased powers for the Dental Estimates Board which will assist it in monitoring general dental practice for the purpose of preventing and detecting unnecessary treatment or other abuse; the clause also proposes a change of the Board's name—to the "Dental Practice Board"—so as to better reflect its functions.

In addition, family practitioner committees may also seek the examination of a patient by a dental officer if a complaint is received from a patient about general dental services.