§ Mr. Andrew Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the number of people entitled to help with National Health Service costs nationally; what is the total expenditure on National Health Service benefits nationally; how many qualify for(a) full help, that is free treatment and (b) partial help towards these costs; and of those receiving full help, how many are entitled on low income grounds, other than income support or family credit claimants, rather than on age, illness or pregnancy grounds, giving figures for the latest quarter for which they are available and for the corresponding quarter in 1987.
§ Mrs. Currie
[holding answer 3 November 1988]: The information which is available is as follows:
We estimate that over 18 million people in England are automatically entitled to free dental treatment, and around 27 million people to free prescriptions. We are unable to estimate the numbers entitled to claim free dental treatment and prescriptions or some help with the cost of dental treatment because of their low income.
The cost of providing free or reduced cost dental treatment in 1987–88 was £73.5 million. We estimate that the cost of providing free prescriptions in the same year was over £500 million. Of the 13.9 million courses of dental treatment provided free of charge in 1986–87 (the latest year for which figures relating to dental treatment are available) 121,000 were provided to people who claimed help on low-income grounds. A total of 250 milli on prescriptions were dispensed free of charge by pharmacists 67W over the same period. Of these, 37 million prescriptions were dispensed to people who either claim help on low-income grounds or were receiving supplementary or family income supplement but it is not possible to distinguish between the categories. For 1987–88, the figures are 264 million and 40 million prescriptions respectively.