Where's a dentist when you need one?

Lack of access to National Health Service (NHS) dental care remains a thorny issue for many living in the UK. A recent survey revealed that one in three people could not get NHS treatment, with six per cent of the population doing their own repairs which included using household glue to stick down a filling or crown. Satirist James Combes provides a tongue in cheek look at the NHS dentist as an "endangered species".

Thousands of species become extinct through the actions of man each year. Nature’s fine balance has been permanently disrupted in the name of progress. Countless miles of rain-forest have been destroyed, taking with it the countless species contained within. Many of the big cat species are under threat. Elephants too are on the critical list. But we need not look far to find other examples. In the UK there is – for example – an extremely rare species known only as the NHS dentist.

Due to the current crisis in NHS dentistry – namely that there are only six left in the country – new, drastic measures are to be implemented by Prime Minister Gordon the Gopher. The first of these is the controversial decision to make attending the six remaining NHS dentists illegal. These six dentists are already vastly over-worked and under huge pressure to perform. Indeed, it is thought that it is the constant harassment from the general public, banging on about how they need “urgent root-canal work” or their wisdom teeth removed, is the very source of the problem. This is why all of the dentists fled to the Private Sector in the first place. In order that NHS dentistry has even a passing chance of being restored to its former glory, patients must be discouraged.

By 2010 visiting an NHS dentist will become illegal. The 58 million NHS patients left behind will be forced to use dentists in the Private Sector for a time, in order to preserve the few remaining NHS surgeons. Naturally, this will not be a popular policy and there will be grumbling from large sections of the public, all of whom will be unwilling to pay for treatment on the basis that “that wasn’t how things were done in my day”. This, however, is only a temporary measure.

The NHS dentists will be removed to a safer place so that they can have a short period of rejuvenation and relaxation. Once this is over, they will be flown back to England, to their new home – in amongst many other endangered species – in London Zoo. It will then be possible for the general public to visit these fantastic creatures in their full magnificence, or as close as can be arranged when raised in captivity. Educational reforms will mean that new generations of school-children will be taught about this fantastic mammal and its capacity for helping others. It will be used as an example of how great Great Britain was, once-upon-a-time.

For the foreseeable future the six dentists will be kept in captivity, which should give a welcome boost to the visiting figures for the zoo, raising considerable funds in the process. Naturally, the six NHS dentists will be kept under 24 hour armed-guard. It is thought that poachers and unscrupulous head-hunters will be able to make a killing – excuse the phrase - should they acquire this critically endangered species. At the current time it is thought that the genuine article can fetch a price of 50,000 Euros per head on the European black-market. But with a 24 armed-guard all of these disasters should be averted.

Should this scheme prove successful, Gordon the Gopher hopes that it will be possible to introduce a breeding programme in the near future, though this may prove uncomfortable for the one female dentist of the group, as she will be under a lot of pressure to perform certain duties. And if all goes well in a few years, after the numbers have increased enough to take NHS dentists off the critically endangered list, the new batch will be gradually released back into the wild; to their natural habitats, to create their very own surgeries and practices and to thrive in the face of a dwindling, corrupt Private Sector, thereby restoring balance to the universe.