Tag Archives: dentist

Scandal of NHS dental patients told to ‘pay private fees’ or wait in pain in Covid crisis

Say “Aah!” But the scream is more likely to be from financial pain, or the pain of waiting for an appointment that disappears ever-further into the future.

The Canary is absolutely right to draw attention to this scandal. Mrs Mike tried to make an emergency appointment last month and the earliest she could get was the end of March.

Still, it could be worse…

Some NHS dental patients … face two-year waits for appointments, a watchdog has warned.

I haven’t seen a dentist for more than two years, since the local NHS practice lost one of its practitioners. I was told my appointment would be delayed and a few months later I was quietly removed from the books.

The nearest practices that might have vacancies for NHS patients are 50 miles to the north or south.

Of course, we could go private. Have you seen how much that would cost?

Healthwatch England was contacted by one patient who was offered a procedure for £1,700 which was £60 on the NHS.

It seems that, even if we survive the Covid-19 pandemic, our teeth may not.

The advice people are being given echoes a satirical sketch from The Day Today, back in the 1990s, warning people against seeking treatment from backstreet dentists.

Compare that with this:

Another patient was told to use a nail file to deal with a broken tooth, and others were advised to “buy dental repair kits and treat themselves”.

This is the culmination of decades in which successive UK governments have neglected our dental health.

Profiteers have ensured that it is not worthwhile to run a dental practice on the NHS. It is far more lucrative to go private, and to hell with the teeth of people who can’t pay.

Oh, and of course it is not profitable to work in rural areas; the big bucks are in the cities so, while dentists might start out in small towns like mine in Mid Wales, they clear off to urban areas as soon as they can.

The Covid crisis has just brought these facts into sharp focus.

And what do you think will be done about it, once the virus has died down?

I’ll give you a clue: nothing.

As long as dentistry remains a gravy train, it will be denied to people outside the cities, who don’t have a ton of spare cash to throw around.

Or you could demand change now. You should – because even if you’re in a good position now, there’s no guarantee that you always will be.

Source: NHS dental patients told to ‘pay private fees’ if they want treatment | The Canary

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Great Labour election promises: they’ll scrap fees for dental check-ups

This is great news, for all the reasons below.

Now, if Labour could make it possible for everybody to have access to a National Health Service dentist, that would be great.

I haven’t been able to see one since June 2018. Fortunately I have good dental hygiene, but I’d still like access to an expert.

Oh, and you know the reason I don’t have an NHS dentist any more? The company providing the service here in Mid Wales is privately-run.

Health service privatisation – it will always leave us short-changed.

Labour will bring back free dental check-ups if they win the election.

The £22.70 fee to see an NHS dentist will be axed and leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday said the ultimate ambition is to scrap ALL dental fees.

The £450 million-a-year plan will free up resources long-term by focusing on prevention. Fees were introduced in 1951 to pay for UK involvement in the Korean War.

But one in five adults puts off seeing a dentist because of the £22.70 charge for a basic visit. Under the first stage of Labour ’s plans, check-ups, oral cancer examinations, X-rays, clinical scaling and polishing and emergency treatment won’t cost a penny.

Worrying numbers [have] turned to internet kits for scaling and makeshift fillings which can cause major problems.

And 515,000 patients a year with toothache go to GPs or A&E – costing the NHS more than £38 million.

More than 100 children a day have rotting teeth removed in hospital and 90 per cent of cases could have been prevented by early treatment. And decay is the leading cause of admissions among kids aged five to nine.

Source: Labour to scrap dental check-ups costs in election policy with some real bite – Mirror Online

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Nice – an ‘above inflation’ pay rise for public sector workers. But is it enough?

Forgive me if I’m underwhelmed by the pay rise that has been announced for people in the public sector.

Their pay was frozen for two years in 2010, and capped at a one per cent increase every year since. That’s well below inflation.

How much would this rise need to have been, to make up all the increases these people have lost, just to be paid in line with inflation?

It seems to me that the Tories are trying to look generous in giving this increase now.

In fact, it should highlight their cruelty.

In the nine years since they imposed their ridiculous austerity, shrinking the state by starving it of cash, while giving huge tax cuts to the very rich, the 100 richest people in the UK have become £55 billion richer, we’re told.

And what has happened to MPs’ pay in the same period?

The rest of us have suffered – and will continue to do so. Remember that.

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers are reportedly set to get a pay rise.

The Treasury will unveil the biggest public sector pay rise in six years as one of Theresa May’s final acts as prime minister, The Times reported.

Soldiers are set to get a 2.9% rise, teachers and school staff 2.75%, police officers, dentists and consultants 2.5% and senior civil servants 2%.

It is thought the money will come from existing budgets.

Incidentally, this is a pay rise for police and soldiers, among others.

Considering current developments over Brexit, are the Tories planning to face widespread public unrest – possibly even violence?

Source: Public sector workers ‘to get above-inflation pay rise’ – BBC News

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The High Street implosion is just beginning

highstreetI had a look at the BBC News website’s business page yesterday. What do you think caught my eye?

UK retail sales fall in December

It seems sales dropped off by 0.1 per cent (seasonally adjusted figure) last month, while the quantity of goods sold rose (rose? shurely shome mishtake, unless prices have magically dropped) by a worse-than-expected 0.3 per cent.

Isn’t December supposed to be the busiest shopping month of the year, with everyone rushing to buy Christmas presents and get the food in? I know the news wasn’t totally awful – sales were still up 0.7 per cent on the same time last year – but it does look like a darkening of the skies before the storm blows in.

Online sales increased, as one should reasonably expect – this is the current trend. But what I found worrying was the drop in sales of both clothing and food. They did “notably badly”, according to the BBC.

I would have thought these were two sales areas that would be relatively internet-proof. With clothing and food (and furniture), people like to see what they’re getting. They want to test it first, to make sure it fits their standards.

My concept of the High Street of the Future would have included clothes shops (or boutiques if you want to be all King’s Road about it), grocery stores (not necessarily supermarkets – how about farm-gate stores or farmers’ markets?), furniture stores, chemists and hairdressers/barbers. With possibly the odd gadget/technology shop for people who don’t trust the postman with fragile items. Also private doctor and dentist surgeries, for those who can afford to pay for them as the future gets worse for the NHS.

The rest will probably go. Blockbuster is closing 160 stores, according to the BBC business site today. That doesn’t surprise me in the least. Bosses should have seen the writing on the wall, when digital delivery became an option, and diversified into it. They didn’t; LoveFilm and the like took over and that was that. People who like holding physical copies of movies in their hands can get them from the glorified mail-order companies like Amazon, if they don’t mind giving their money to tax avoiders.

That’s why HMV lost the battle last week. Now I see that Game wants to buy some HMV stores. Wasn’t Game itself in danger of going out of business last April? I think it was, and I wouldn’t expect a business bought by such a firm to last very long, for that reason alone.

We have already discussed, in a previous article, the demise of Jessop’s.

To cap it all, panellists on the BBC’s Question Time last Thursday said a further 140 UK high street shopping chains were facing severe financial difficulty. One hundred and forty!

And that’s just at the moment.

What will happen after the government’s cuts to benefits kick in, ensuring that the poorest in the country, who use the highest proportion of their money as they receive it, have much, much less cash to spend?

Think of the rise in unemployment, as one retail chain after another hits the dirt. The growth in demand for social security (the government calls it “welfare”) benefits; the need to borrow even more money, increase the national debt even further; the increasing number of derelict buildings as our cities’ shops go empty – along with more and more homes, as families fail to keep up rent payments (their benefits won’t cover it) and they get kicked out onto the street; the lights going off across the UK as the Tory-led Coalition, helped by the Liberal Democrats, turns our home towns into ghost towns.

Let’s pause for a moment to remember that the Coalition government inherited an economy that was growing. It wasn’t booming, obviously, but it was going in the right direction. The very first thing this government did was kill that growth, and much of its economic policy since 2010 has been intended to make sure it stays dead.

To shrink the state. To starve the beast.

To end the social security system.

To privatise the NHS.

To increase unemployment.

To keep wages low – and maybe even find opportunities to cut them.

We’ve got two more years with these chumps in charge. That’s plenty of time to ruin the UK beyond repair – or at least so badly that it will take decades to recover.

I think it’s time to put serious effort into making life as difficult as possible for them. we’ve had a few demonstrations in London over the last couple of years – perhaps it’s time to start putting something up every week, even if it has to start with only a couple of people standing outside the Houses of Parliament with banners saying “Coalition Out” and “Resign”.

If they want information from you, in order to put their changes into practice, find a way to slow the process as much as possible – obviously not in situations where there’s a threat to life and limb, but in other administrative ways, why not? Think of it this way: They want to complicate your life – why not return the favour?

In employment law, there is an offence called ‘Constructive Dismissal’. This is when an employer contrives to make a particular employee’s working life so difficult that he or she is effectively forced out the door. There is no such offence relating to the way a nation treats its government.

I’m not an advocate of violence; I’ll take passive resistance every time.

So let’s constructively dismiss the Coalition.

How about it?

Betrayed Nation: the speech, the lies, the threat

One suspects the on-screen caption was more apt than the BBC intended.

David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference may go down in history as the worst drivel ever coughed up over the public by a British national leader.

I was going to write a serious article about it but, on reflection, I have decided to mock and insult him pitilessly, interspersing my disdain with some medicinal doses of cold hard truth – and a few tasty pics from Facebook and Twitter.

Where to begin? Let’s go for the biggest groaner. Yet again with your disabled son, Mr Cameron? “When I used to push my son Ivan around in his wheelchair, I always thought that some people saw the wheelchair not the boy. Today, more people would see the boy and not the wheelchair – and that’s because of what happened here this summer.” He was referring to the Paralympics but what people saw was an overprivileged toff who took disability benefits for his son when he didn’t need them and is now cravenly using the deceased child’s memory to score points, while depriving the sick and disabled of the money they desperately need in order to survive. Did he really think anyone watching that, with an ounce of sense, would not be sickened to the pit of their stomach by his bare-faced, self-satisfied hypocrisy?

It’s the sort of line that forces me to agree with the Tweeter who typed: “I’ve got a great ‘Cameron’s speech’ drinking game. As soon as he starts to speak, drink bleach.”

There was a big lie about the NHS: “We made a big decision to protect the NHS from spending cuts.” In fact, in the current financial year, his government cut NHS spending by something like £25 million, and I believe he is also rationing access to treatment. He recently announced £140 million of new funding – but neglected to trumpet to the rooftops the fact that it’s in LOANS, so any organisation taking it would have to pay it back, presumably with interest.

He said the number of doctors, dentists, and midwives has increased – and this is true. But if you factor in the number of nursing staff that have been cut (there are now fewer than in 2010) then the number of full-time equivalent, professionally qualified staff in the NHS has risen by just a fraction of one per cent since the coalition took office. Hardly a ringing endorsement of his policies, is it?

Cameron: “So be in no doubt: this is the party of the NHS and that’s the way it’s going to stay.”

Twitter: “There isn’t a god or Cameron would’ve been struck down.”

Even the BBC’s Stephanie Flanders was looking askance at this: “Cameron talks about the NHS but can they tell us how many of the Cabinet have private health insurance?!”

Cameron: “Aspiration is the engine of progress… That’s why the mission for this government is to build an aspiration nation.”

Twitter: “‘Aspiration Nation’ sounds like the title of one of Grant Shapps’ motivational courses!”

Cameron: “Line one, rule one of being a Conservative is that it’s not where you’ve come from that counts, it’s where you’re going.”

How many Conservative Prime Ministers came from Eton, then, ‘Call-Me-Dave’?

Cameron: “We don’t preach about one nation but practise class war…”

Twitter: “…says head of government of private-school-educated millionaires making big cuts to public services for the poor.”

Could this possibly be the conference pass that Andrew Mitchell famously hasn’t used this year?

He said we need businesses investing and taking people on. To do that, they need low interest rates so they can afford to take out a loan, and confidence that it’s worth investing.

Big explanation follows, courtesy of Ramesh Patel in the Huffington Post: “The real reason why our borrowing costs have fallen and remained low since 2008 is because the demand for bonds has risen and there is a an expectation that it will remain high because the markets expect the UK economy will remain stagnant.” That’s STAGNANT. Not “on the rise”, as Cam would have us believe.

“Consumers and businesses are not spending. As result, saving levels have risen, which has increased the demand for bonds [loans made for a fixed period of time at a fixed interest rate] and increased their price. There is an inverse relationship between the price of bonds and their yield-return or interest rates. Hence, if a £1,000, 20-year, bond is at an interest rate of 5 per cent, you would receive a return of £50 per annum. Now suppose the demand for bonds rises because more people are saving. Lets assume it rises from £1,000 to £1,500. With the interest rate remaining the same, the return will also remain the same at £50. Hence, the new effective interest rate falls because £50/£1,500 = 3.33 per cent.” So interest rates have dropped because the price of bonds has risen – but that won’t help anyone take out a business loan – and if you don’t believe me (as Dave repeated several times during his oration), just you go out and try it!

He said it was essential to get the deficit down, and the Tories’ deficit reduction plan is “the very foundation” of their growth plan.

This is nonsense. Back to Ramesh Patel: “A government that attempts to reduce its spending during a recession engages in a self-defeating activity. Rather than increasing its income, it increases its deficit and debt. Quite simply, cutting spending results in increased unemployment, which increases its benefit spending. As a consequence, consumption spending is reduced, which results in lower income or GDP. Austerity has never worked.”

Just so. Austerity has never worked. It isn’t like a household reducing its spending to increase the amount of money it holds; the opposite holds true in national economics. Cameron (and his chancellor, Gideon Gordon George Osborne) knew this before they got anywhere near Downing Street and have been stringing you along for two and a half years.

Do you need more convincing? Here we go – he said “The damage was worse than we thought, and it’s taking longer than we hoped.” It wasn’t. He inherited a growing economy, with falling unemployment. It is his government that dragged the UK back into recession. Borrowing is up by 22 per cent so far, in this year alone, because of his policies. His claim that he has cut the deficit by a quarter in the past two years is nothing more than a lie.

It certainly isn’t why interest rates are at record low levels. Mortgages might be low as a result but how many people really benefit from that? Businesses don’t have the confidence to invest – or the wherewithal, since the banks are stubbornly refusing to pay out, no matter what Cam the Sham’s government does. Sadly, more than 33,000 businesses have gone bust since the 2010 general election.

On employment, he said more than a million new jobs have been created in the private sector. What he FAILS to say is that they are mostly part-time. Those people will be topping up their income with government benefits – creating more government borrowing. And what about the unemployment figures – especially among young people? More than a million are out of work. We’ve got 1.49 million men out of work and 1.1 million women unemployed as well. These are atrocious figures – the worst since, well, the last Conservative government.

His attack on Labour was a child’s argument. He called Labour the party of “one notion” (see what he did there, mocking Ed Miliband’s “One Nation” statesmanship?) – borrowing.

But wait. His government is currently borrowing £802 every second. And I repeat: Government borrowing has increased by 22 per cent since the beginning of this financial year alone.

“We’re here because [Labour] spent too much and borrowed too much.” If Labour’s record was so bad (its borrowing record is in fact better than that of the Tories), why was Osborne promising to match Labour’s spending plans, right up until 2007? I think the only conclusion we can form is that Mr Cameron will say anything if he thinks it will appeal to the masses. Truth or fact have nothing to do with it.

The vacuousness of the argument he picked with Ed Miliband, over tax, defies belief! He took issue with Mr Miliband for saying a tax cut was like the government writing people a cheque, saying “If we cut taxes, we’re not giving them money – we’re taking less of it away”. What’s the difference? They’ve still got more of it than they would have had otherwise! Arguing over semantics is not an election-winning strategy.

This was Cameron’s defence of the cut in the top rate of tax, from 50 per cent to 45 per cent. He said: “It’s their money.” Was he saying the super-rich should not pay any tax at all, because it’s “their money”, not the state’s? In that case, what about the rest of us? Is the money we earn “our money” and should we then, also, be exempt from tax?

If so, then good luck paying off that huge deficit you’re building up, Dave – not to mention the benefits bill you’ve been steadily increasing over the past two and a half years!

I sometimes wonder if he knows anything about the real economy at all.

Oh look! I just unintentionally echoed something Mr Cameron said! About Labour?!? Deluded isn’t the word. If it weren’t for the deadpan, funereal seriousness of his delivery, this could be a comedy skit.

He talked about the threat of wealthy businesspeople moving to other countries, which – guess what, Dave? – they never, ever do.

He said the rich will pay a greater share of tax in every year of this Parliament than in any one of the 13 years under Labour – but has never produced any figures to back up this claim. How are we supposed to believe him?

He went on and on about the need to build more homes but declared no new policy.

On welfare, he referred to individual families in receipt of up to £60,000 in housing benefit. Who are these people and where in the country can they possibly live? Has anyone EVER received that much? I want to see Conservative Central Headquarters produce the evidence RIGHT NOW!

He said it’s an outrage, conveniently ignoring the fact that NOBODY RECEIVING HOUSING BENEFIT ACTUALLY SEES A PENNY OF IT. It obviously goes to the landlords. But his plan to cap housing benefit won’t harm landlords – they’ll just evict the tenants for being unable to pay the rent.

Why not cap RENTS instead? That is the real solution. But then, as somebody mentioned on Twitter, this isn’t about helping people in need – it’s about turning central London into a poor-person-free zone.

Oh yes, and somebody should really make it clear to Mr Cameron that 93 per cent – the overwhelming majority – of new housing benefit claimants are in work. What does this say about the kind of work available in Cameron’s Britain? To me, it says that it doesn’t pay enough for people to survive. He should be asking why the government is effectively subsidising these employers when they should be paying a proper living wage! (A living wage? Isn’t that a… Labour idea?)

On his state-sponsored slavery Work Programme, he said, “Work isn’t slavery; it’s poverty that is slavery.” Firstly, when it’s compulsory, unpaid work, I think Mr Cameron will find it IS slavery. Especially when it’s the kind of work that helps the firm but not the worker, who can be slung back on the dole after a few weeks, and another slave – sorry, worker – pulled out of the line to do the same ‘training’. Secondly, the Child Poverty Action Group tells us that, thanks to Mr Cameron’s policies, child poverty in the UK is set to rise by 800,000 by 2020; this is the biggest increase in generations and Cameron’s comment on that was “it’s us, the modern compassionate Conservative party, who are the real champions of fighting poverty in Britain today.”

There was more – much more – of this tosh but I can’t be bothered any more. You get the idea. If you want to see what someone from Eton has to say about the state education system, go to the Tory website and read it yourself – if you can stomach it. Let’s just say the point at which Cameron started attacking teachers who choose to work in the toughest schools was the moment when one man, whose girlfriend is a teacher, gave up all attempt at calmness and started screaming swearwords in response.

There was no mention of the police at all. We know he’s cutting the force nationally by 15,000, though – let’s face it, the billboard with his face on it made his intentions perfectly clear!

The verdict? One Tweeter typed: “What an absolutely vacuous, empty tokenist deluded speech riddled with lies, mistruths and divisive barrel-scraping spin.”

My favourite is this. It’s short, pithy, and to the point: “One of the worst dictator speeches since 1945.”

But I’ll leave the last word to Ed Miliband, who delivered his critique of Mr Cameron and his party in advance, during last week’s Labour conference: