And you thought some things couldn’t get any worse

Austin Powers poked great fun at British teeth, so I don’t think I’m saying anything to outre when I point out that the Brits haven’t traditionally been known for their high quality dentistry. Indeed, when I lived there, people were taken aback by my insistence on an annual cleaning. The dentist who did the cleaning told me that he and his colleagues were trained in American dental techniques, but didn’t use them much, considering them a bit over the top. It turns out that the dentists worry less and less about going over the top and more about scraping bottom:

NHS dental patients are receiving below standard treatment because dentists are being forced to make decisions based on the financial cost of procedures, it has been claimed.

The Dental Laboratory Association (DLA) has suggested figures over the last few months show a dramatic decline in certain treatments because dentists have been administering less complex procedures.

A drop in the most complex “Band 3” treatments being administered has been attributed to the introduction of a new contract for dentists in April.

Chief executive Richard Daniels said: “The current contract is forcing dentists to make prescription decisions based on financial resources rather than clinical need.”

He added: “We are getting a lot of inquiries from patients, mainly the most vulnerable in society who require dentures, who just can’t get them.

“So rather than getting a denture they are having a tooth extracted. We are going back to the dark ages of dentistry.”

The DLA claimed that, according to a survey of its members, there had been a 57% reduction in treatments such as crowns and dentures.

The Government has claimed the new contract is designed to cater for modern needs however, as drastically improved dental health has meant that fewer complex treatments are necessary.

I assume you all picked up on the fact that this is managed dental care in the ugly spotlight.


6 Responses

  1. Please provide the link to the original article. And, just out of curiosity, where’s your comparable outrage over the lack of *any* dentistry in the US for those who can’t pay for it? Help me understand how identifying a problem in the UK is worse than completely ignoring the problem in the US.

  2. Greg, thanks for pointing out the missing link.

    I gather you understood that part of this post was just the humor of British dentistry, which some consider an oxymoron.

    But I was making a point that government managed care is no panacea. It is true that here, some people have no dental care. (Although we always got our care at the dental school when I was growing up. It was a slow way to do it, but it was cheap. So there are alternatives for those who live in most urban areas.) Britain exemplifies the problem of managed care, which is that everyone gets lousy care, which is not necessarily much better than a situation in which most get good care and some get limited or no care.

  3. Britain is part of the Family of Man, Book. And you certainly can’t refuse to give your relatives money when they permanently attach themselves as a parasite to your house, now can you.

  4. I want to point out that Greg has posed an entirely fair question, and he’s done so without any (of his usual) ad hominem attacks and scurrilous putdowns.

    Answering Greg is not simple. His question delves right to the very heart of liberal vs conservative solutions to problems. A definitive answer would take pages. Here’s my short attempt:

    Supplying free dentistry requires complete government control, usually via increased taxes which are redistributed to provide the service. If this is done for free dentistry, you can be certain it would be done for many, many other services. We would become a socialist society. What Greg is advocating is precisely a socialist society: forced redistribution of all the means that are necessary to provide for all the needs.

    It never has worked, and it never will work.

    It doesn’t work for three reasons.

    The first is basic human nature. No one works as hard for “society” as they do for themselves and those they love, and those they value. The second is corruption. When such vast power is centralized, vast corruption inevitably follows. Finally, the third reason is inefficiency. Government control delivers results extremely poorly. You could argue that at least it is fair: EVERYONE is served equally poorly.

    I’ll close by whining about a pet peeve: When I order books and cds from Amazon, I get them within one week to ten days. Guaranteed. I have ordered a CD from PBS (because PBS has sole control of this particular item.) I have been waiting for four weeks, and so far, still no CD. Just another example of the above points I tried to make, that government funding, freed from market pressures, simply produces inferior results, time and time again.

  5. I want to point out that Greg has posed an entirely fair question, and he’s done so without any (of his usual) ad hominem attacks and scurrilous putdowns.

    A broken clock is right twice a day. Not even crazy people are crazy all the time. Nature produces camouflage for predators to aid in their hunt.

  6. Y,
    I as well wondered about Greg possibly engaging in “camouflage for predators”, though I wouldn’t have been as scathing as all that! I wonder if Greg gets serious only when he thinks he has a knock-down winning argument, and the rest of the time he just wants to vent his hatred and disgust for conservatives and especially for Book herself.

    Or, perhaps he has recently read Kipling’s “If” and taken it to heart? Remember, everyone can change! Time – and the tone and content of Greg’s next few posts – will tell the tale! 🙂

    I’m still noodling over Greg’s question. We all know that preventive care is more cost-effective in the long run. I’m not sure this applies well to dentistry, but in general I think it’s true. We already supply, via taxes, a safety net to cover emergency room visits, which is a level of compassionate taxation that I have no problem with.

    Faith-based initiatives and other charity initiatives – supported by voluntary donation, not government force – could alleviate much suffering and stress. But the truth is, their effectiveness is marginal. If we believe the poor should not be abandoned, and we abhor government force where it isn’t necessary, it seems to me we should have a much stronger SYSTEM in place for guaranteeing a widespread and effective use of charity organizations. But we don’t have that. In its absence, the compassionate who want to DO something are left only with the option of government force to accomplish their goals. I wish we were providing a more effective alternative than that, so they wouldn’t have to turn to socialism to accomplish their compassionate goals.

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