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Volume 210: debated on Thursday 25 June 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will publish the recent Department of Health survey on dental practitioners' remuneration.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Ainger) on 2 June at column 451.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment has been made by her Department of regional variations in the actual expenses incurred by dentists.

No such assessment has been made. The assessment of dentists' expenses made by the dental rates study group is based on national averages.The only regional element in the present system is in respect of dentists' business rates. Since April 1991, provided dentists can demonstrate a certain commitment to the NHS, these have been reimbursed directly.

For the future, the Government remain committed to a fundamental review of dental remuneration and are looking to that review to develop a system which more effectively and fairly remunerates all dentists in the NHS for the important work they do.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on her recent decisions with regard to the balancing mechanism for the payment of general dental practitioners and give the grounds on which she decided to set aside the advice of the pay review body on this matter.

This advice has not been set aside. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Hazel Grove (Sir T. Arnold) on 23 June at columns 161–62 announced a revised fee scale to be introduced on 8 July which does not involve recovery of overpayments made in earlier years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will publish a table showing the average and median fee income payable to dentists for national health service work in each national health service region, and nationally, for each of the last three financial years.

Dentists' median earnings by region are not available for 1989–90. Information for 1990–91 and 1991–92 could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The table shows dentists' mean earnings in each regional health authority and their median earnings in England and Wales for the three financial years 1989–90 to 1991–92.

Average fee earnings per dentist by region1
Regional health authority1989–90 Average (mean) fee earnings2 £1990–91 Average (mean) fee earnings2 £1991–92 Average (mean) fee earnings £
East Anglia66,12974,03393,910
North West Thames53,20059,10270,704
North East Thames63,59569,47283,661
South East Thames61,27166,94878,969
South West Thames58,20662,09269,325
South Western60,78567,04181,212
West Midlands70,72776,72894,781
North Western68,75275,60491,834
England and Wales
1 Per principal in the data of the Dental Rates Study Group. Essentially those dentists who have been in contract for the complete financial year.
2 These earnings exclude a small amount paid to dentists participating in the capitation trial.
3 Estimated from group frequency data.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what further representations she has received from dentists in North Staffordshire about the proposed reduction in fees.

We have received a number of letters from dentists in North Staffordshire about the proposed reduction in fees.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information she has on the extent of dental decay in (a) North Staffordshire, (b) the West Midlands region and (c) the United Kingdom.

Figures on dental decay are not collected centrally for district or regional health authorities. Information on dental decay among five and 12-year-old children in North Staffordshire district is available from surveys by the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry. The 1989–90 survey of five-year-olds showed an average of 1.74 decayed, missing and filled teeth. The 1988–89 survey of 12-year-olds showed an average of 1.72.The latest figures available for the United Kingdom are from the child dental health survey of 1983 and the adult dental health survey of 1988. In 1983, the average number of decayed or filled deciduous teeth for five-year-olds was 1.8. The average number of decayed, missing and filled teeth for 12-year-olds was 3.1 permanent teeth. In 1988, among dentate adults in the United Kingdom, the average number of missing teeth was 7.8, decayed or unsound teeth 1 and filled teeth 8.4.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the number of (i) full-time and (ii) part-time posts on the establishment of the Dental Practice Board; what additional work has been received by the Dental Practice Board as a result of the approvals it is now required to give; and if she will make a statement.

There were 1,087 full time staff and 487 part time staff employed by the Dental Practice Board when it replaced the Dental Estimates Board on 1 April 1989. We are discussing with the board the implications of the additional work on prior approval for courses of treatment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the number of patients registered, and courses of treatment undertaken in England with general dental practitioners for each year since 1988–89.

The introduction of capitation treatment for children from 1 October 1990, means that it is not possible to provide a consistent data series on the number of courses of dental treatment to children. The other information requested is given in the table.

General dental services—England
YearNumber of adult courses of treatment scheduledNumber of adults registered1Number of children registered1
1 The new contract on 1 October 1990 introduced registration for adults and children.