Dentist and GP waits show why NHS should not be privatised

Richard Crook with his dog, Benji.

Richard Crook with his dog, Benji. - Credit: Richard Crook

The cost of us looking after ourselves and keeping us all running smoothly seems to be creeping up.

I was a bit shocked to get the estimate for my new reading glasses (£373 for two pairs). I was also disappointed to see that our dentist will no longer be able to take NHS patients.

We brought up our two sons in Fakenham. We all have teeth and wear glasses occasionally. We look after our health and try to stay fit.

It was reported in the Fakenham & Wells Times a couple of weeks ago that our dentist has announced they could no longer take national health patients. I have received good service from Lisa who is leaving Norfolk and the Dental Practice.

Like so many others the practice is unable to fill the vacancy as they cannot recruit a suitable replacement, a common problem, I believe.


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So no more NHS patients. I can’t blame the dentist which is working hard and operating under difficult conditions.

Wensum Dental Practice on Norwich Road.

Wensum Dental Practice in Fakenham - Credit: Teresa Kleinhans

I am no investigative journalist, but I had a brief conversation with someone in the know who said this practice has around 10,000 people on the books and about 7,000 of those are NHS.

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I suppose they will either find another NHS dentist (I couldn’t find one), go private or stop going to the dentist.

I rang around all the Fakenham dentists and the only one that still takes NHS patients has not been able to take on new patients for nearly two years. The other practice, which only takes private patients, is completely full. I was told it’s a “dreadful situation”.

A couple of years ago I had a hip replacement. I have a friend who needs one now.

Hip and knee replacements are classed as non-urgent, routine or elective surgery. They can also be excruciatingly painful to live with and can cause other problems such as depression.

The waiting time is now many months or even years – actually, it’s unspecified as waiting time targets have been removed.

Not a problem though if you can afford to go private - £13,642 for a hip replacement, plus extras like £200 for a consultation, £180 per X-ray etc. and it can be done in three days in August.

Wensum Dental Practice on Norwich Road.

Wensum Dental Practice on Norwich Road. - Credit: Teresa Kleinhans

Is this all about the pandemic? I would say mainly but not entirely.

It’s certainly got worse recently, and privatisation of the NHS has speeded up, but the waiting lists have been increasing since 2011.

The British Medical Journal said recently, “NHS waiting list hits 14-year record high of 4.7 million people” and points to trends over years.

The Kings Fund quote the numbers waiting for operations as 2.5 million in 2011 which rose to 4.3m in March 2018. There are even worse estimates.

The point I am trying to make is that when you hear about the NHS being privatised, or indeed not being privatised, it is not a vague concept. It is a political choice that is already happening, and it has very real consequences for all of us.

Warning for dog owners

Just sharing this. My young lurcher, Benji, managed to find and eat a large, very tasty apple and sultana cake.

Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants are all potentially poisonous to dogs. If eaten they can cause gut problems and in serious cases, kidney failure.

He spent three days on a drip and had his stomach emptied. It’s vital to get to the vet ASAP. So be warned and be careful if you have a dog. Benji is fine now thanks to our excellent vet.

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