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Eyesight: Testing

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the introduction of charges for (a) eye tests and (b) dental check-ups on demand for these services; and if he will make a statement. (154779)

There is no system of national health service charges for sight tests. Certain groups including children, people aged over 60, those on a low income and those predisposed to eye disease are eligible for NHS funded sight tests. Those not eligible for NHS funded sight tests have to pay privately.

In 1999 we reintroduced free sight tests for everyone aged 60 and over. This resulted in a switch from private to NHS sight tests, rather than any material increase in the overall number of sights tests. This suggested that the cost of a sight test is not a disincentive for individuals.

This Government have not introduced charges for dental examinations. NHS charges for dental examinations have been in place since 1989 for those patients who are not exempt on income or other grounds. In April 2006 the system of charges was simplified as part of the wider reforms to NHS dentistry. Under the reforms, dental examinations are no longer charged as a separate item of service but as part of a course of treatment. A basic course of treatment (band 1) costs £15.90 and includes examination, diagnosis (including x-rays if needed), preventative advice and, if clinically indicated, a scale and polish.