The new Bond movie is thought to involve a machine built by a megalomaniac who sucks out the confidence of UK dentists from space.
I always picture successive Health Secretaries as Bond Villains – sitting in some vast but dimly lit lair under Whitehall, developing stealthier and stealthier ways of removing money from the NHS General Dental Service (GDS) without it being made obvious to the public that they are trying to shed the GDS by making it unviable for dentists to continue working in it.
I joined the NHS at the end of the eighties. Within a couple of years the Government brought in a pay cut to fund the new capitation element to dental services. Like many dentists, I stuck with the NHS and even still clung on by my fingernails while the villainous Health Secretary (I have no idea who it was – possibly Jonathan Pryce) made it impossible to attain even our previously meagre NHS earnings by introducing the UDA-based system (the equivalent of a laser fiendishly aimed at our most vulnerable point…our self-esteem).
And now we face a new devilish plot. The proposed contract now aimed for launch (it’s guessed) in 2017. We know not how it’ll be funded, how it’ll work or whether we will be able to provide decent treatment for our patients under it. All we know is that it’ll have some traffic lights in it. To me, that does sound like a Bond-like countdown to the launch of a strike that will demolish the remainder of the NHS dental services.
Having said that, I’m pretty confident that the next NHS Confidence Monitor will contain even less confidence. I think we need some new gadgets from ‘Q.’