§ 31. Mr. Norman Atkinson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will consider the possibility of setting up a fully salaried dental service for National Health Service patients based on group practice principles, backed by fully salaried ancillary services.
§ Mr. Ennals
The concept of a fully salaried general dental service is not new. There are advantages and disadvantages in both the current fee for item-of-service464W system and in payment by salary. However, of these two alternatives the balance at present remains in favour of the fee-based system, which on the one hand helps to preserve dental practitioners independent status and on the other provides the NHS with a cost-effective service. I understand that increasingly such practitioners are practising in groups of two or more.
The fee-based system has been in existence since the start of the NHS and has had the continuous support of the profession's representatives, the British Dental Association, with whom any fundamental changes would, of course, have to be agreed. I understand that the great majority of general dental practitioners prefer the present system, although dentists may apply to provide general dental services on a salaried basis in health centres with equipment, the services of ancillary staff and other facilities provided by the health authority.