I heard some sad news yesterday. My wife was booking an appointment with our dentist and was informed he had left. Recently I had a very painful abscess under a tooth and he saw me twice within an hour of phoning the practice, carefully explained the problem and prescribed the appropriate treatment. There was no charge for the appointments and x-rays, though there are basic charges for my usual treatment. He was an NHS dentist. His practice has recently moved to new premises in the same village with the latest equipment, good parking, a comfortable environment and the clincher... free WiFi! What more could we ask for. He was brilliant and POLISH and as a family we are going to miss him. The good news is there is a new dentist at the practice and if she is anywhere near as good as him we will be very happy. She is also Polish.
We moved to our dentist's practice a few years ago because our previous dentist, who was British, had written to advise us that his practice was going private and he enclosed a load of bumf about our options for taking out private insurance. Call me old fashioned but I have a commitment to the National Health Service and am happy to pay my taxes so that people can access treatment free at the point of need. I recently had some gastric problems and again received excellent treatment from specialist physicians in a recently rebuilt hospital. The whole process from booking appointments, prepping for the procedures, the endoscopies and the after care were first class and again in a friendly comfortable environment that made an unpleasant procedure as bearable as possible. First class service on the NHS and don't ask me to list the number of different nationalities of those involved in my care.
A couple of thoughts. Yes, there are problems with the NHS. That's no surprise given the size of the organisation and the demands made of it. But as we seek development and improvement let us not lose sight of the jewel of the nation that we already have. Danny Boyle was right to celebrate the NHS at the heart of the Olympic Games opening ceremony. So let's stop selling it off on the sly piece by piece so that we have to pay again for what we already own.
And I want to say thank you to my Polish dentist for his friendly manner, his excellent treatment and for the contribution he has made to our family's well being and to the local community he has served. When I hear people moaning about immigrants swamping our country, read the pernicious propaganda distributed by UKIP and listen to politicians from the other political parties targeting immigration as the great ill of our age, it is my Polish dentist that comes to mind and I am ashamed of the quality and tone of our public discourse on this matter; it really sets my teeth on edge.
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