Friday, November 17, 2006

U.K. dental shortage leads man to superglue own tooth

The Brits have paid their government to provide them with health insurance but collecting what they have paid for is another matter

A man fixed his front tooth with superglue after failing to find an NHS dentist. Gordon Cook, 55, has used the bizarre "DIY dentistry" technique on a loose crown for the last three years - with each fresh application of glue lasting around two months. The father of seven, who was erased from his original dentist's register after moving to a new home in Tranmere, Merseyside, said he turned to glue after losing hope of finding a dentist. He said: "I tried to find a new dentist but they had all gone private. "A lot of them said they would take me on as an NHS patient, but only if I agreed to have the loose crown fixed as a private patient, which would cost around 100 pounds.

"In the end, I just decided to take matters into my own hands. I had read somewhere that super glue was invented for medical use, to bond skin, so I gave it a go. "I tried a few different brands but the one I use now, which is just called Industrial Super Glue, is the best. "You can't really taste it but you do have to be careful not to use too much, in case you glue your mouth shut." Mr Cook, a security manager, has now found an NHS dentist and hopes to have the crown fixed professionally.

Councillor Chris Blakeley, chairman of Wirral Council's social care and health overview and scrutiny committee, said: "Mr Cook's solution was rather extreme but he is not alone when it comes to dentistry horror stories. "People are finding it extremely difficult to find an NHS dentist, and we are currently gathering evidence to assess the scale of the problem, which is not unique to this area."


Australia: A government ambulance service near-meltdown

Ambulance employees racked up 610,058 hours in overtime last year - the equivalent of an extra 334 full-time staff - as the state's health system continued to struggle. The overtime hours cost the Government about $23.5 million for the extra hours. It came as the demand for emergency code 1 services increased by 12.2 per cent last year and hospitals continued to struggle to provide services.

Ambulance Employees Australia Queensland spokesman Steve Crow said the continued reliance on overtime was akin to a "pressure cooker" situation. "My concern is how long they can they keep it up," he said. "It's just stupendous - or stupid." Mr Crow said the organisation received daily reports from paramedics about their overtime concerns, particularly in the busy metropolitan regions, compounding their already stressful job. "It is a stressful job," he said. "Our ambos take home a great deal of work on their shoulders."

Emergency Services Minister Pat Purcell said overtime was an integral part of the Ambulance Service's delivery model. Despite the growth in demand, the service reduced its overtime hours "as a result of more efficient and effective work practices and resource development, including matching resources to community demand profiles". "When recalled to duty, paramedics are paid overtime for all time worked," Mr Purcell said. Although the actual overtime hours worked were down 25,332 on last year, the cost was up $1.167 million.

Opposition emergency services spokesman Ted Malone said the figures cast serious doubts on the management. "There are some real problems within the managerial side of the QAS," he said. "With no disrespect to the people, if you had a heart attack do you really want a person who has been working for 16 hours to save your life?" He said reasons for the increases included ambulances being "used as hospitals" while emergency departments were on bypass.

Queensland's hospitals continue to experience massive demand. In the most recent Hospital Performance Report to the end of September, 11.9 per cent of patients awaiting category 1 elective surgery had "long waits". Likewise, 22 per cent of patients waiting for category 2 surgery and 32.9 per cent of patients awaiting category 3 surgeries had long waits.

The Department of Emergency Services annual report said the service would employ 70 additional paramedics this financial year to cope with the increasing demand. A further 144 frontline staff will be employed over the next two years to address issues of health and safety, fatigue and roster reform. Last October, paramedics took industrial action for the first time to highlight the increasing demands on workers.



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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