asked the Minister of Health how many children in England and Wales were, at the latest date for which statistics are available. awaiting specialist orthodontic treatment under the National Health Service; what is the approximate proportion of these needing treatment for functional defects; and to what extent the waiting lists have increased in recent years.
The number of consultants and senior hospital dental officers employed exclusively as orthodontists is 37, compared with 39 on 31st December, 1953; but an appreciable amount of specialist orthodontic work in hospitals is done by other dental consultants and senior hospital dental officers.
In view of the fact that the impression seems to be current that the waiting lists are quite considerable and are increasing, can my right hon. Friend say whether the shortage of orthodontic specialists is due to absolute shortage or to low rates of remuneration, and, if the latter, does he not think that a small amount of money invested in this service now might save a great deal of expenditure on the general dental service later?
Some of these points will probably be covered by the Committee whose appointment I recently announced. There is a good deal of orthodontic work done under the general dental service, and I think that, apart from these figures, one-third of all dental practitioners do at least some work in the orthodontic field.