§ Sir Thomas Arnold
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the remuneration of NHS dentists.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
[pursuant to the reply, 2 June 1992, Official Report, columns 466–67]: I have today authorised an amendment to the statement of dental remuneration to implement changes to the dental fee scale from 8 July 1992. We anticipate that this will not only deliver the increase in the target average net income to £35,815 which the review body recommended but that dentists should on average receive some £5,000 in addition.
I have also increased the allowance for expenses to £47,228, an increase of 11.6 per cent.
I shall be laying regulations to amend the NHS (General Dental Services) Regulations to reduce to £200 the threshold of treatment costs above which dentists must seek prior approval from the Dental Practice Board before carrying out treatment. This will improve our monitoring of costs of general dental services. Only some 3 per cent. of courses will be covered by this adjustment but it is right that dentists should seek approval for these costly treatments.
Taken together, this means that dentists will receive an average gross income of around £88,000, including expenses.
My decisions were made in the light of all the available considerations. We have taken into account the points put to us by dentists and their representatives. In some respects —for instance in the field of orthodontics—the fee scale has been amended to take account of their representations. This will mean that most of the work done by orthodontists can be carried out without prior approval.
There will be a consequent reduction in the charges paid by patients.
These changes are fair and reasonable and strike the right balance between the needs of patients, dentists and other health service workers.
We have made good progress in dental health in recent years. This was recognised by the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body in recommending an increase in pay of 8.5