As it was bitterly cold and there was fog in the air, I drove to this morning's dental appointment rather than walk. There was only one lost filling to replace, otherwise my teeth are in good shape. I paid just over forty pounds for a check-up and a replacement filling. A notice displayed in the reception area say that patients must pay in advance for any planned scheme of repair work arising from a check-up.
This can be very expensive indeed, more than some patients can lay their hands on there and then, so they need to go away and think about how they can afford it. But, the proposed costed plan itself only lasts six weeks, and they must return and pay up front within that time frame, or be obliged to go through and pay for another checkup for the same or a revised estimate to be applicable.
Modern dentistry is high tech, effective and expensive. Registered NHS patients only get to pay a proportion of treatment costs. Those on benefits get completely free treatment. The economics of modern health care are complex and difficult, and it seems well nigh impossible for health authorities not to run out of money to achieve their aims. We pay for dentistry through taxation, and most of us have to pay also through the charges levied on treatment.
The same could also happen in future for medical treatment. Recently we've been hearing in the news about JAMs (=people Just About Managing.) Those in this category not on benefits may find themselves unable to afford treatment and having to forego necessary repairs, maybe medical treatment generally. Such progress has been made in health care and medicine over the past century, but at an increasingly great price. Where will it all end?
After the dentists, I went into town and met Fr Rufus for lunch at Cafe Zest, and heard about the way his ministry has been developing in the most positive way, since we last met, the best part of a year ago. It was great to hear someone so enthusiastic and delighted with the response to his work, in a broader context where ministers' moral is low as a result of catastrophic decline in church membership. Monmouth diocese has reduced its clergy numbers from 130 to 46 in recent years, and coping with the demands of radical change is proving hard for many.
Then I returned to Pontcanna to meet with Fr Chris Lee at Cafe Castan on Llandaff FIelds, to discuss the funeral of his sister who died last weekend. It's going to be held at St German's. I've already been asked to conduct it, and as there are several other clergy who also wish to be involved, some advance planning will be needed to enable everyone who wants to can take part.
After an early supper, Clare and I went to Chapter Arts Centre, where mulled wine and mince pies had been laid on for subscribers of Chapter Friends. It was strange to realise when we were there that there that out of hundreds of people there for various evening activities, there was only one person I knew and nobody else I even I recognised from the neighbourhood or the churches. Perhaps that's because I haven't really been around that much over recent years, or simply an indication of the size of the area served and the eclectic constituency of Chapter Friends. It's typical of urban living, I guess, but not really the most congenial experiences to start this so-called season of good-will.