There were 192 dentists in the School Dental Service in 1963, and they examined some 46 per cent of the total school population. This is in addition to children who had their teeth examined by the general dental service.
The Under-Secretary of State does not indicate how many children were examined under the general dental service. Is not it time to take positive action to bring the School Dental Service up to strength? Is not he aware that there is a great deal of ignorance concerning the care and treatment available for children under 21 under the general dental service? Will he publicise what treatment may be given in that way and so relieve the pressure on the School Dental Service? Is not it obvious that the Scottish Office ought to be doing something more to enlarge the School Dental Service?
There are three points in the hon.. Gentleman's supplementary question and the first I can answer straight away Last year 47 per cent of the school population received dental treatment through the general dental service. In order to achieve what the hon.. Gentleman wishes, we should need to attract more dentists to the School Dental Service. There have been three dental service campaigns recently, and my right hon.. Friend is doing all he can in this direction.
Have the Government made any estimate of how many more dentists are needed? Will the hon.. Gentleman bear in mind that this was one of the reasons given by the Government more than 10 years ago for the changes made in respect of the dental section of the National Health Service? Why, after all these years, have we still a completely inadequate School Dental Service?
Recent figures show an improvement, but we are still some way short of what would be a comprehensive system. Last year, in conjunction with local authority associations my right hon.. Friend's Department issued a report which suggested improvements in the conditions of service aimed at allowing dentists to spend more time on work at the chair.