After the feast cometh the famine

17 January, 2013 / Infocus

Britain, for the first time ever, is now over £1 trillion in debt – a staggeringly enormous figure. If you counted one pound every second, it would take about 35,000 years to add it all up.

The highly wasteful interest on this tidy pile amounts to just short of £45 billion every year, or more than Great Britai’s annual defence budget. This money has to come from taxation and is topped up by yet more borrowing. The not-so-big secret is that nobody knows how to pay it off and if nothing is done, it is going to eat your lunch or, more likely, your pension!

How on earth does Government manage to get through such colossal amounts of money? Currently, Government spending is dominated by welfare and healthcare, amounting to some£310bn in 2010/11 out of a total of £700bn, including the interest. Taxes raised were short of £500bn, so we are failing to balance the books or even begin to pay our way.

Clearly, we are broke. The national overdraft is as high as it has ever been and it is getting worse, not better. It is estimated that the debt will rocket to £1.6 trillion by 2015! The pips squeaketh; we are in an unsustainable, taxed-to- the-max, spend-to-the-end, vicious circle.

What is going to happen? Firstly, the only way out of this mess is for politicians to stop spending and to balance the books by being honest about what services we can actually afford.

The spending binge of the last decade when prudence let rip with the country’s credit card is rapidly coming to an end and politicians who have bribed the electorate with ever-more freebies are going to have to come to terms with the dishonesty of their policies and the hangover of their lack of sustainability. Needless to say, anyone who speaks out against politicians’ profligacy and public waste is pilloried, but that will change as the debt accumulates and the cash runs out.

I believe that before the end of this decade, we will see our economy rebalance to a low tax economy that allows enterprise to flourish as it does in the Far East. I think we will see an end to welfarism, with people having to relearn the joy of standing on their own two feet and looking after themselves. In the long term, this works, whereas our 50-year experiment in socialism has been an abject failure that has bankrupted the country.

So, how will this affect the tiny world of dentistry in Britain? Looking back, I think taxpayers’ cash has been wastefully sprayed at NHS dentistry. Instead of wise public health, preventively orientated, and policies that are highly cost effective, our professional leaders and their political masters have gone off in the old drill-and-fill (badly) direction.

We have had on offer preferential loans for anything from a sterilising room to a disabled access lift. Golden hellos, grants for this and that, even postgraduate centres that we cannot actually afford, that have nonetheless been built with private finance initiatives that inflate the real cost by as much as 300 times the actual build cost.

The felony has been greater compounded by hugely expensive clinics that have opened (where there was no need), which are often grossly inefficient centres for mostly drilling and refilling. A rash of therapists, who at best are half trained and at worst do not understand the beneficial role that a hygienist has to play in high-quality long-term dental care, have been pushed through. All this to assuage the politicians’ discomfiture about the lack of availability of NHS dentistry in the past.

The only thing that really works in dentistry is prevention. For a tiny fraction of the cost of the above, the water supply could be fluoridated and all those drillers and fillers would be redundant.

So, in 2020, I am looking forward to a welfare-free Great Britain where the Government is much smaller than it is at the moment. Where we are honest about what we can collectively afford and we are prepared to downsize to debt-free. Where people are proud to stand on their own two feet and pay for the cost of their treatment either through mutual funds or insurance.

Where the cycle of generational welfarism has been broken and the great populous is proud to work at every level. Where NHS dentistry has been finally consigned to the dustbin of bad ideas that gradually got worse and dentists are proud of the work they deliver, which is paid for by their patients or their insurers and so does not cost the taxpayer a penny.

A new era of patient motivation and education, where over-zealous therapists, keen to hone their skills like dinosaurs and new cross-auxiliaries, have thankfully passed into history.

Dream or reality, it is a better vision for the future!

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Government response

Margie Taylor, Chief Dental Officer for the Scottish Government, said: “As a direct result of our preventive approach to dental health, this Government is already seeing improvements in the nation’s oral health.

“We believe that capital developments, such as extensions of outreach centres, have improved access to NHS dentistry and the expansion of training facilities for dental graduates and therapists lays the foundations for continuing to improve access in the future.

“Such Government grants recognise the pressures on dentists to meet the range of requirements placed upon them, such as funding purpose-built decontamination units to ensure the highest standards of hygiene and infection control for patients.”


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