asked the Minister of Health what dental treatment has been provided for Russian ballet dancers under the National Health Service recently; and what was the cost.
I am sending my hon. Friend details of the treatment. The net cost, on latest information, was just over £100.
As this service is expressly for the people of Britain, does my right hon. Friend realise that people who pay for this service object to it being abused and, particularly, to jumping of the queue when others who have to pay for the service have to wait as much as three months for the service of the dentist? Can he offer any suggestions for overcoming this difficulty.
I am considering if this sort of case can practicably be avoided in future.
Does the Minister think that the National Health Service has ever had better advertisement for £100 in the whole of its existence? Will he resist all pressure from the benches behind him to reduce the availability of the Health Service to visitors to this country?
The Health Service is available primarily for the people of this country, as my hon. Friend rightly said. But, of course—and, I think, we are at one on this—we provide emergency and Good Samaritan treatment for the stranger within our gates. As I have said, however, I am considering whether a case of this kind can practicably be avoided in future.
Can my right hon. Friend give any indication of the extent to which there is abuse of these provisions, if at all? Can he give any figure for the average annual cost to this country of providing free medical treatment to visitors?
I have explained that free medical treatment is not, except within the limits I mentioned, available to visitors, and the total annual cost, though it cannot be precisely estimated, must be relatively very small.
When the Minister refers to Good Samaritan treatment, can he say whether there is any Biblical precedent for the idea that we should do our best to see that the good deed is not repeated?