Saturday, February 11, 2006


Ministers embarrassed by the sight of long lines of people trying to sign up for an NHS dentist have come up with a simple solution: they have banned queues [lining up]. In an interview with The Times, Rosie Winterton, the minister in charge of dentistry, disclosed that an edict had gone out to local primary care trusts to make sure that future registrations take place over the phone or by appointment.

Ms Winterton, who is locked in a battle of wills with the British Dental Association (BDA) over government reforms, admitted that queueing for an NHS dentist was unacceptable. “Of course we want to confine the queues to history,” said Ms Winterton before talks with the BDA over a new dentists’ contract that she hopes will save NHS dentistry. The Government wants to reform the way in which dentists are paid. They will be asked to take on more NHS patients in return for an £80,000 salary, £80,000 in expenses and a new monitoring system.

Dentists say that the contract does not allow enough time for preventative work. They also want the monitoring suspended, claiming that it is too complicated. Ms Winterton is determined that the reforms should go ahead from April 1 despite threats of a mass exodus of dentists to the private sector. Hanging over the reforms is the pledge made by Tony Blair in 1999 that within two years everyone would be able to see an NHS dentist. It did not happen.

Ms Winterton defended her boss, saying that NHS Direct and 53 new dental access centres meant that people were able to get emergency NHS treatment. Under the reforms, six-monthly check-ups will end, with healthy patients told not to return for three years.



They haven't got a clue and virtually admit it by passing the buck to the bureaucrats. Simple principles such as people should be judged by their behaviour only rather than by some arbitrary and generally speculative diagnosis seem way beyond their ken

Experts will deliver by mid-year a blueprint on how to reform mental health as state and commonwealth leaders today agreed to a $1.1 billion injection for health reforms. After a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG), Prime Minister John Howard announced the strategy for dealing with improvements in mental health. "We made a major commitment together to address the huge challenge of mental health," he said. "We will by not later than June ... have from our officials an assessment of individual areas of change and reform needed in mental health. "Both the Commonwealth and the states recognise that additional resources are needed." Mr Howard also paid tribute to former WA premier Geoff Gallop, who was not at the meeting because of his personal fight with depression.

Mr Howard said the mental health campaign would look at cannabis and amphetamine abuse. "We need as part of the campaign on mental health to address amphetamine and cannabis abuse," he said. He also said they had approved a new national health telephone network. It would include support services for mental health. "As part of the health reform program we're going to have national health telephone network which will have triage system to ensure efficient use of available GPs on a 24 hours, seven day a week basis," he said. "And as a major component of that we're going to include support services for mental health.

"We seek to engage the major non-government organisations such as Lifeline and Kids Healthline, both of which along with other organisations of a similar kind are often in receipt of calls from people who have mental health problems."

More here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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