Kevin Lewis's Christmas crackers
 

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Kevin Lewis's Christmas crackers

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Kevin Lewis's Christmas crackers

 

Kevin Lewis's Christmas crackers

Kevin Lewis treats Dentistry readers to his own, distinct review of a turbulent 2006.

Where did the year go? No sooner had I made my 2006 New Year resolutions than I was opening my invitation to a year-long Christmas party. And what a party it turned out to be! The magician was certainly one of the best. He started by making the NHS fee-scale, the narrative, the provisos, the time limits, the Conditions as to Materials, the Conditions of Payment, the Terms of Service and the disciplinary procedures disappear. He even managed to make NHS dentists disappear in some areas.

Later in the year he sawed the Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in half. The clever bit was that the face smiling at one end of the cabinet after he’d finished sawing was the same one that we had started with, and the wiggling toenails at the other end were still painted in PCT livery.

The party games were never ending. The PCT chief executives were playing musical chairs to the tune of ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’, there was a frantic game of pass the parcel between primary and secondary care, and even seasoned GDPs were to be discovered playing blind man’s buff. This involves staggering around completely in the dark with a silly smile on your face from April to October, before bumping into something unexpected (the mid-year review).

‘Guess the weight’ is always a popular party game. This year people were asked to pick up a copy of the glossary containing all the new acronyms and terminology as now used in the NHS, coupled with an Appendix ‘A simple guide to Units of Orthodontic Activity’. Estimates of the weight of these documents were variable, but Chris Audrey was the closest with his answer, ‘bloody heavy’.

Joke Time

But best of all was the special set of NHS Christmas crackers that I have received. As we sat around the table wearing face masks on our heads to generate the festive spirit, we all enjoyed reading out to each other the ‘bon mots’ from those rolled up pieces of paper stuffed into the crackers. For example:

• The holly and the ivy are ever-present at Christmas. But why does one attract four times as many UDAs than the other? Because the holly bears the crown.
• When is a provider not a provider? Two nanoseconds after she has completed her annual contracted number of UDAs.
• When is a performer not a performer? When the provider realises that he can complete the required number of UDAs with fewer dentists.
• At what point has a dentist secured and maintained a patient’s oral health? March 31st 2006.
• What do you call a UK graduate who joins the dentists’ register for the first time? A minority.
• What do you call two crowns on the same lab ticket? A typo.
• What do you get if you cross a patient who needs a root canal, with a dentist who is already ahead of his UDA targets? A referral.
• What don’t you get if you cross a PCT dental commissioning lead person once too often? An increase in your contract value.
• Daily Mail health correspondent to Patricia Hewitt: ‘How many Fs are there in NHS dentistry?’ Patricia Hewitt: ‘I am advised that there is no F in NHS dentistry.’ Health correspondent: ‘Can I quote you on that?’ (If you don’t get that one, ask someone to read it back to you quickly).

Stretching the boundaries

Never let it be said that the NHS doesn’t have wide international influence. I hear that since April 2006 there is now a word for ‘prescription only’ in 62 different languages. Strangely enough, in several of these languages they use the same word for ‘continuation of treatment’. Now there’s a funny thing.
And finally, the end of year awards. The most promising newcomer award is a tie between Peter Ward and Susie Sanderson (although they are hardly newcomers). Peter also featured in the ‘I have seen that face somewhere before’ award, but the top prize in this category goes to John Renshaw in his new incarnation within the ‘Challenge’ team. John has had a topsy-turvy year – with more turvy than topsy – but I think he deserves a word of thanks for many years of service to the profession in the harsh cut and thrust of the dento-political arena. John has always said what he thinks, and has remained true to his convictions.

During 2006, Mike Mulcahy completed a very good term as the Dean of the Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP). He has now been succeeded by Richard Hayward – an accomplished pair of hands indeed. This looks set to be another good phase in the Faculty’s relatively brief history, although only Gordon Brown and Tony Blair would fully understand the depth of the affection and common purpose of the two Faculties at Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Two countries separated by a common language or one country separated by two languages? Watch this space.

The best supporting actor award goes to Barry Cockcroft, who has supported Rosie Winterton like Rod Hull supported Emu. I never saw your lips move once, Barry.
The ‘tongue in cheek’ award for the best freebie at a dental exhibition goes to the GDC this year, whose stand at the BDA Conference was dispensing erasers (get it?). Very good. But not quite as good, perhaps, as a fundraising event for the Alzheimer’s Society charity. Their evening event was called ‘A night to remember’.

Even serious subjects can be refreshed by a liberal dose of humour. So have one more read of the nGDS and nPDS regulations. They really are a laugh a minute. Remember, adversity makes you stronger – if it doesn’t kill you first, of course. It’s been one hell of a year, so have a good break. Relax and enjoy, and see you here next year.

 Posted on : Thu 7th - Dec - 2006

 

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