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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that people in the islands of Barra, Benbecula, North and South Uist, requiring dental treatment, have not been provided for under the National Health Service owing to the lack of a resident dentist for over a year, have to travel to and from the mainland at their own expense, and pay board and lodgings while absent from home and work; and what steps are being taken to provide local dental treatment.
My right hon. Friend is aware that these areas are at present without a resident dentist. The county council and the executive council are continuing their joint efforts to replace the dentist who left early in 1956. To attract applicants, my right hon. Friend has authorised the executive council to guarantee a minimum annual income and the county council will provide the tenancy of a house and the use of a fully equipped mobile dental unit. He is writing to the hon. Member about the temporary arrangements which have been made to minimise the need for patients to travel for dental treatment.
The financial incentive is a starting salary of £1,250 instead of £1.000. I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that it would not be right or in the patients' interests to obtain dentists by financial inducements alone.
Is the Minister aware that the financial welfare of the patients is far from being looked after, when they are having to do without dental treatment or pay their fares to Oban, Glasgow and Inverness, and then pay for board and lodging while having dental treatment which it is the statutory duty of the Minister to supply?
Everything possible is being done. The hon. Gentleman's Question will have helped to give publicity to the post. Under the arrangements now made this is quite an attractive post for anybody who likes living in the Islands.
Is it not certain that there will be a great extension in the health and community services in the Islands if the proposals for a guided missiles range materialise?