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Volume 204: debated on Friday 28 February 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement explaining the circumstances in which dentists have been advised that their payments are to be reduced by 13 per cent.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proposals he has to vary the national health service fees paid to general dental practitioners; and if he will make a statement.

The proposed increase in target net income of 8·5 per cent. which was recommended by the Doctors and Dentists Remuneration Review Body was accepted by the Government. To ensure that the level at which fees are pitched in the coming year will deliver this proposed increase in dentists' net income, the health departments consulted the British Dental Association (BDA). Because of evidence of overpayments resulting from this year's level of fees, which suggest that on average dentists would be paid far more than the intended target gross income, the Government suggested an interim fee reduction from 1 April. Following discussions with the BDA and the health departments agreement was reached to suspend the reduction in fees proposed for 1 April. The health departments and the BDA will also hold a joint enquiry to review the level of payments to dentists in 1991–92; simultaneously, they will begin a more fundamental review of the structure of dentists' remuneration.