over 5,000 adults were about six years without NHS dental services here. It became the usual story of, if you were desperate some level of emergency service might be found for you somewhere. If you could manage the increasing costs of private services, you had to resort to that. Children were generally provided for in the early days, though that changed too.
You had to ‘join’ a practice. In very many cases, joining actually meant paying high monthly instalments per person for a meaningless insurance policy, from which the dental practice obtained a good rake off, and which, if you were lucky gave you four hygiene appointments per year – why were two per year no longer satisfactory – and 10% off emergency treatment. The patient still paid the private cost of any treatment as need arose. You wouldn’t choose to buy such an ineffectual and dubious insurance policy, but the only choice was, like it or lump it. Because it was called a ‘joining fee’ the policy did not seem to necessitate Trading Standards’ scrutiny.
One dentist was more up front. You paid £20 per annum (that’s recently increased to £25) to belong to the practice then paid as treatment was required. The prices were on a menu and you were given a written quote for your dental work. This practice in all respects seemed fairer than the others, kept children on the NHS and adults were treated on a private fee paying basis.
Another practice was full of superficial reception glamour and surgery gizmos. Everything was computerised. That was fine if you wanted to see what your teeth or mouth needed while in a designer dental chair, but no good for continuity when the computers were not working, which frequently happened. This was a pay-as- you-go private service, but at a very high a price for work that was no better than an average dentist could perform.
Today, a reorganised NHS service has developed in the county. (It is a county about the size of Wales). The new NHS practice is not easy to get to, there is no bus stop near to the dental practice for people who have use public transport to travel distances. But, at least we have it.
…More another time.