To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services, pursuant to the answer of Tuesday 12 April, how many of the 206,524 eye tests and 652,660 dental examinations were undertaken free of charge in 1986; and for which additional categories charges will be levied under terms of the Health and Medicines Bill.
All the 206,524 sight tests and the 662,660 dental examinations carried out in Trent region in 1986 under the general optical and dental services were free of charge. Once enacted the Health and Medicines Bill will permit charges to be made for dental examinations and will confine the NHS sight test to specified groups.As regards dental examinations, these will continue to be free for children and young people under 18, full-time students under 19, expectant and nursing mothers and people on a low income. This will account for nearly half of the dental examinations provided in the future.As regards sight testing, a free NHS sight test will continue for children under 16, full-time students under 19, the registered blind and partially-sighted people on a low income and also, as I announced in the House on 14 April 1988, those with diabetes or glaucoma who are referred by the doctor managing their condition. It is estimated that these groups account for over one third of sight tests.