Dental Poverty

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Have you tried to find an NHS dentist lately? My god, I swear it would be easier to find a virgin on a maternity ward. In the town of Cwmbran, there is just one dentist taking on NHS patients, and that practice has a six month waiting list.

I haven’t had a dentist since I moved to Cwmbran, and I moved here in October of 2014. And the other day one of my teeth started giving me hell, luckily it passed, but I still put my name on the waiting list anyway. So I began shopping about to see if there was anything reasonably near. Nothing. Except private dental care, which costs a hell of a lot of money.

It got me thinking though, there is a really high correlation between those on low incomes and those with poor dental hygiene. Cheap food is laden with sugar, and those from low income backgrounds are more likely to smoke (another thing that rots your teeth) and whilst yes those on benefits will be exempt from the charges of NHS dentist’s (tabled below) those in employment with low incomes, especially young people, wont be. I mean if you work for 40 hours a week on minimum wage, it’ll cost you almost two thirds of weeks income to get some proper dental work done.

Band Treatment Charge
1 This charge will include an examination, diagnosis and preventative care.  If necessary this will include X-rays, scale and polish and planning for further treatment.  Urgent and out-of-hours care will also cost £14.00. £14.00
2 This charge includes all necessary treatment covered by the £14.00 charge PLUS additional fillings, root canal treatments or extractions. £45.00
3 This charge includes all necessary treatment covered by the £14.00 and £45.00 charges PLUS more complex procedures such as crowns, dentures or bridges. £195.00

And it really is a bar to employment, missing or crooked teeth are something that is probably going to put off potential employers, or hurt chances of promotion, and whilst I know how shallow that sounds, its actually been proven to be true, time and time again. But the associated costs of travel and time off from work are also a factor.

So how do we address this problem? Well ideally it would be to increase the number of NHS dentists in Wales, which means the Welsh Government need to cough up a heck of a lot of money to entice qualified dentists to Wales while also paying to train a heck of a lot more. And since one of the Welsh Government’s priorities is “Promoting positive health throughout life” and that they are actively trying to improve health and reduce inequalities in healthcare. maybe its time that National Assembly of Wales put their money where their mouths are.

Trip To A & E

I got to take a wonderful trip to the local accident and emergency department this morning, regarding the severe pain in my foot, what I thought was going to be a protracted wait in a cramped waiting room, actually turned out to be a pretty short visit. I was in and out in under an hour, which shocked the hell out of me given all the headlines you hear about 6 hour waits in A and E, but no I was diagnosed with an inflamed tendon and sent on my merry way with a prescription for a bucket load of pain killers all within an hour, I’ve had longer waits in the post office.

 

Government Policy As Understood By My Two Year Old

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Sometimes government can seem like several factions of warring children, and policy itself seems to have been thought up by preschoolers, so here is my daughter Marianna’s thoughts on some policy areas from the current government.

The NHS

The Lady [Theresa May] wanted to shut all the hospitals”

Fox Hunting

“The nasty lady [Theresa May] wants the doggies to hurt the foxes, its bad” 

Brexit

“The Silly Man [Boris Johnson] doesn’t like all the other people” 

Child Poverty

“The Scary Lady [I assume Theresa May] doesn’t want the babas to have food or toys, when they want pizza and dolly’s and we should give them some books” 

Immigration 

” I like the other people” 

Trident 

“[Bombs] are bad, because they blow up peoples houses and the poor baba’s”

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Marianna is no stranger to political activism, she was an active campaigner in the reccent local government elections. 

NB: Neither I nor Marianna’s mother have ever taught her to refer to Theresa May as nasty or scary, this is just a conclusion she has drawn for herself, along with calling Boris Johnson the silly man.

Organ Piece: Reprise

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A little over a year ago I wrote a piece on the newly introduced opt-out system of organ donation that had come into force across Wales, now a year on I take a look at how the whole system is shaping up.

For those that don’t know, the Welsh government introduced regulations that meant when a person dies the NHS assumes consent for posthumous organ donation. People can opt out of this at any time and families can say that they don’t wan’t to go ahead with the donation, but otherwise when possible, healthy organs will be put to use for the benefit of as many people as possible.

So here we are a little over a year later and where do things stand?  In the last year there have been approximately 160 organ transplants in Wales, with almost 25% (39 transplants in total) coming from presumed consent. On the face of it, that sort of growth from any government scheme is a marvelous result, but in actual human terms that is 39 people who are alive today because of presumed consent.

As an idea I was a little bit dubious as to how it would play out, but I am quite happy to see that my cynicism was unfounded only about 6% (approximately 180,000 people) of Welsh citizens have opted out of the system, many of which are for religious purposes as opposed to pure selfishness. If for whatever reason you feel that you do not wish to donate your organs after you pass on, you can register your decision here.

On a personal note I do feel that this is the way forward, as a society we should be promoting this sort of model to the rest of the United Kingdom and then be pushing it further, to all parts of the earth. It isn’t just Wales that is benefiting from this new system however, many surplus organs are being sent to hospitals within England, for use by patients, that otherwise would have been stuck on waiting lists, possibly for the rest of their lives.

I know it is a tricky thing to navigate, especially as families may not wish to discuss it, the subject of death is never pleasant, but you should make your wishes known, especially if you want to help people, and especially if you want to make your death mean something.