§ Mr. Teddy Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will now disclose the full findings relating solely to the supply of dentures to the public reported to the then Minister for Health following the inquiry carried out by the Office of Fair Trading from 1983 to 1985.
§ Mr. Dorrell
The Director General of Fair Trading wrote to my right hon. and learned Friend the then Minister for Health on 20 June 1985 following allegations by the Association for Denture Prosthesis that dentists were abusing their monopoly through high prices and profits from the supply of private dentures and that the quality of treatment would improve if dental technicians were allowed to take impressions and fit dentures—a practice called "denturism". In his letter the director general saidDenturism appears to have reduced the cost of dentures, including those provided by dentists, in countries without a National Health Service. However, in the United Kingdom the office's survey suggests that dentures can be obtained readily on the NHS although it may be necessary to change dentists, especially in London and the South East, in order to do this. The price is closely controlled by the DHSS and there is no evidence that dentists are making monopoly profits on providing them. It seems unlikely that denturists providing facilities to see patients could provide them much more cheaply. Against any savings would need to be set the cost of additional training for denturists if this was provided at public expense.In general therefore I am reasonably satisfied that the NHS provides a competitive alternative to private treatment, and I see little justification for the introduction of denturism on economic grounds. We did not assess the arguments about health care and quality of service but found little to suggest they would strengthen the case for denturism in the United Kingdom in present circumstances.