Saturday, May 19, 2007

7,000 need a dentist - and that's the good news

What does this say about Blair's Britain ?

On the day we finally learn for certain who Tony Blair's successor as Prime Minister will be, there is a story in the local press that 7,000 people in West Cumbria are waiting for a dentist. They are told that if you want to get one, you have a much better chance if you are willing to travel 40 miles over poor roads to Carlisle or Penrith for treatment.

And this is supposed to be good news as it indicates that the problem is getting better - at one stage there were more than 26,000 people in West Cumbria on the waiting list for a dentist.

All this eight years after Tony Blair promised in 1999 that, within five years, everyone in Britain would have access to an NHS dentist.

I do not decry the efforts the Cumbria NHS Primary Care Trust has made to improve the situation. Nevertheless the fact that a story of how only 7,000 people are waiting for a dentist can be seen as good news is an absolute indictment of the way that a government elected to improve public services has failed to do so.

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