To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the total value of gold purchases by the National Health Service for each of the last five years.
I regret that this information is not available.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will outline the arrangements for the purchase of gold for use by dentists.
General dental practitioners purchase products for dental use in alloy containing gold direct from commercial dental laboratories. In the case of community and hospital dentists the purchase of these products or the materials to make them in hospital dental laboratories, is the responsibility of district health authorities in accordance with local arrangements.
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what alternatives to the use of gold of similar durability for dental purposes have been considered by his Department.
A wide range of gold and precious metal alloys is used in the manufacture of dental products. In particular, a number of alloys with specifications ranging from no gold content at all to one with at least 45 per cent. fine gold content is recommended as suitable for bonding with porcelain in the manufacture of certain types of bridges and crowns. The Department has commissioned research to evaluate the effectiveness of these alloys in the bonding process, and to identify alternatives of similar clinical efficacy.