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.

Happy Saint David’s Day

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Saint David’s Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March, the date of Saint David’s death in 589. The feast has been regularly celebrated since the canonisation of David in the 12th century, though it is not a national holiday in the UK.

Traditional festivities include wearing daffodils and leeks, recognised symbols of Wales and Saint David respectively, eating traditional Welsh food including cawl ,Welsh rarebit, and Welsh Cakes and women wearing traditional Welsh dress. An increasing number of cities and towns across Wales including Cardiff, Swansea and Aberystwyth also put on parades throughout the day.

The day also marked some interminable display of the Welsh Language going on in schools, suffering through that was always a hellish experience. I actually make quite a quick study in languages, speaking about four conversationally and being able to spout the basics in 7 more, but Welsh is something I’ve never been able to get my tongue around, you need both a lisp and severe throat infection to really get it and I lack both. Being a Welshman who doesn’t speak Welsh is actually a pretty common thing, about 85% of Welsh residents report having no ability to speak Welsh, and yet over 99% report speaking English. Yet every official sign and form (from the public sector only thankfully) has to be in both English and Welsh, which is ridiculous, how many trees have died just to preserve a dying language. It’s also worth mentioning that the number of Polish speakers in the UK is almost double that of Welsh speakers, but we don’t see council tax bills in Polskie do we?

Lifting The Veil On Politics: Wales

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This is the first of a series of posts trying to de-mystify politics for everyday people.

Wales is one of the countries that makes up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it is bordered to the east by England, the south by the Bristol Chanel and north and west by the Irish Sea. It has a population of just over three million people, English is the main language, although Welsh is commonly used (if not spoken), the currency is pound sterling and the capital city is Cardiff.

When it comes to the governance of Wales there are 5 levels of government (four after brexit finally transpires and Britain leaves the European Union) and they are:

  1. Community: The over 800 Town, Parish and Community Councils throughout Wales.
  2. Local:  Unitary authorities comprising of County, City and Borough Councils (Of which there are 22) [another blog about this will be forthcoming].
  3. Regional: The National Assembly for Wales is the directly elected parliament for Wales with 60 directly elected assembly members with responsibility for, healthcare, education, transport, business, tourism and agriculture and various devolved monetary policies.
  4. National: The UK government in Westminster which influences Wales by controlling aspects of foreign policy, defence policy and some aspects of tax policy. [another blog about this will be forthcoming]
  5. European: Governs 28 nations including the UK, with directly elected members of the European Parliament, European Commissioners and Councillors appointed by each of the member states.  Handles regulatory matters and Human Rights. [find more here]

Wales finally got its own government as a result of a referendum held in 1997. 60 Assembly members were elected to the first term of the National Assembly For Wales in 1999, 40 members elected from first past the post style constituency elections and 20 members elected from five proportionally represented regions.

As of 2011 the Welsh Government is responsible for making policy and laws for the following areas:

  • Agriculture, fisheries, forestry and rural development
  • Ancient monuments and historical buildings
  • Culture
  • Economic development
  • Education and training
  • Environment
  • Fire and rescue services and promotion of fire safety
  • Food
  • Health and health services
  • Highways and transport
  • Housing
  • Local government
  • National Assembly for Wales
  • Public administration
  • Social welfare
  • Sport and recreation
  • Tourism
  • Town and country planning
  • Water and flood defences
  • Welsh language

The way laws are made in the Welsh Assembly is as follows:

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Source: National Assemble For Wales

Hopefully that helps to shed a little light on how the governance of Wales works (or works in theory).