asked the Secretary of State for Social Services under what statutory authority a dentist's patient who wishes to be treated under the National Health Service is obliged to state this wish on every visit.
Patients are not obliged to request National Health Service treatment at every visit, but only at the beginning of each fresh course of treatment. This is because under his terms of service, in accordance with the National Health Service Act 1946, a dentist is free to accept or refuse anybody for NHS treatment. Having accepted a patient for NHS treatment, a dentist is obliged to provide or arrange for the provision of all the treatment necessary to secure dental fitness which the patient is willing to undergo and satisfactorily to complete that treatment. His obligation to that patient is discharged at the end of the course of treatment. Most dentists treat regular patients on a continuing basis although not obliged to do so, but even then, to avoid any possible misunderstanding, patients are advised to ensure at the beginning of each course that they have been accepted for NHS treatment.