Dental Service

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th October 1952.

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Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East 12:00 am, 30th October 1952

asked the Minister of Education how far the school dental service is below establishment; and what steps are being taken to deal with the problem.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

The number of school dentists in England and Wales on 1st October was equivalent to 827 full-time officers, an increase of over 100 since January last. A further similar increase would bring the service back to its 1948 level, but an equivalent of over 1,000 additional dentists would still be needed to give a ratio of 1 to 3,000 children.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and I recently sent to local authorities a joint circular, of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy, suggesting ways in which they might build up their dental services.

Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East

Is the Minister aware that we are glad to hear that some progress is being made, but was not an offer made recently by the dental profession to set aside a certain amount of time for the treatment of school children? For what reason was that scheme turned down? Would not that scheme have the effect of helping this programme?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

The Question deals with the school dental service. I know that the hon. Member will be glad to hear that, although every year since 1948 the number has decreased, this year we have had an increase for the first time. In January, the number was 713 and for October the number is 827.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

Would it be possible for the Minister to give information for each specific county if Questions were put down?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

I will certainly do my best, but information about the increase is only now coming in and some authorities who have been advertising and trying to get dentists may not have obtained the extra number. But if the hon. Member will put down a Question I will see what I can do.

Photo of Sir Austin Hudson Sir Austin Hudson , Lewisham North

asked the Minister of Education whether she will make a statement on the working of the school dental service in Lewisham; and what further steps can be taken to make it more efficient.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

There are at present two full-time school dental officers working in Lewisham. I understand from the local education authority that there has been some recent improvement in the time children have to wait for treatment and that they are considering whether the service could be further improved by using a mobile dental unit.

Photo of Sir Austin Hudson Sir Austin Hudson , Lewisham North

Is the hon. Lady aware that children have had to wait for 12 months? Could she say whether or not that has been improved?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

Yes, I am glad to say there has been an improvement. The average time that children have to wait for new appointments is two months, and for re-appointment two weeks.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

Does that improvement apply to other parts of the London County Council area—for instance, Lambeth—as well as Lewisham?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Manchester Moss Side

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman would put that question down.