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“We haven’t seen you for a while, have we?” It wasn’t really a question. I don’t go to the dentist unless I have to. The last time was about four years ago, to remove a wobbly molar.

Once upon a time, in England, you could get dental treatment on the National Health. I’m sure you still can – somewhere. Treatment wasn’t free, but nowhere near as expensive as private treatment, it was subsidised – after all we pay into the National Insurance scheme, surely we should be entitled to our NHS treatment? Nowadays, there is insufficient profit for the dentists who provide NHS treatment, so they don’t do it – they only take private patients.

Now, because they have reduced their standing to ‘business for profit’, I treat them the same way as, say, the garage that repairs my car, or the man who fixes the washing machine. When my teeth break, I take them to be mended.

“No, not since I needed the last one taken out.” I replied.

I was appointed to a spare dentist that same day. He smiled, greeted me with a handshake and introduced himself. Very nice; very professional. Ten minutes later I left the surgery with a gauze pad blocking the hole where the tooth had been, but the biggest hole was in my wallet. I was £87 poorer. That is an hourly rate of £522.

Still, it’s hard times and they have to scratch a living, I suppose.