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Mouth Cancer Deaths Rise in United Kingdom as Access to Healthcare is in Decline

Updated: May 23

Across the United Kingdom, many are terrified by the prospect of falling ill due to the failure of our current National Health Service. The desperate pleas of those requiring treatments, surgeries, or even diagnosis, are unheard. Due to a lack of access to healthcare, people do not know what is going on with their bodies or whether something is indeed wrong. They must sit in hopeful ignorance rather than be told the truth. The NHS is in critical condition, and there's little indication of its health improving soon. 

The NHS is built with rotted support beams, and there is hardly any hope of repair. Its foundations for efficacy: wait times, efficiency, payment, recruitment of staff, and provision of good quality care have all been waning. Hospitals are overburdened with patients, underfunded and understaffed, as the NHS reportedly operates with 154,000 fewer staff than required. To combat this, the Conservatives have outlined their plan to improve the NHS and "give patients the best possible care." Despite the rhetoric, surely the public will see through such schemes to the broader picture; our reigning party have lost a great deal of credibility and are not trusted to run the NHS after years of decline. 

Since the inception of the NHS and the public pride it engenders, the Conservatives have claimed that the NHS, even during the Thatcher years, would remain "safe in our hands." Safe to say, this hasn't been true. They've been about as safe with the NHS as a driver cradling an alcoholic beverage between their knees for a curiously long journey down the middle of a cycle lane. We have been watching the slow demise of a once proud institution, which, as of the last decade, has not been able to serve countless people and has seen so many pass on due to its current inefficiency.

A considerable and pressing issue for the NHS has been the expanding number of individuals dying from mouth cancer in the UK. If it were detected and treated, many lives could be saved and or prolonged. However, on the rare occasions when the sun shines bright on a long mid-winter day, you might be lucky enough to be seen. Nigel Carter, an executive for the Oral Health Foundation (ORF), asserts that those with "mouth cancer will not receive a timely diagnosis" with access to NHS dentistry in the state it currently is. Moreover, mouth cancer deaths have seen a worrying 46% increase from 2011 to 2021, coinciding with the staffing of NHS dentistry becoming more sparse than ever and overcrowded waiting rooms. The NHS, at this point, cannot take preventative measures to limit deaths. It must accept those deaths as inevitable. It is an extremely sad indictment for an institution torn apart and over-extracted with hardly enough funding to ensure sustainability. The Conservatives have let it rot, and it's about to collapse.

Many look to lambast dentists and the NHS for this current state of affairs, but the problem is far too nuanced to blame the institution exclusively. Because of funding issues, working in health remains an incredibly unattractive prospect, with the low pay and high workload. The government is responsible for fostering these conditions; it's quite a remarkable sacrifice for anyone to put themselves in the position of an NHS practitioner. The primary reason for poor working conditions and the waning efficacy of the NHS is the massive budget cuts levied on the dentistry portion of the NHS. 

Government spending "was cut by a quarter from 2010-2020". Mix that with an ageing population, and many more individuals will be prone to requiring urgent medical care. Budgets must rise to keep up with demand and support those already in need. High workloads and shrinking budgets result in extensive waiting lists that create deadly implications for those in need of urgent treatment. It puts many individuals at risk, as NHS dentists can't take on new patients and struggle to look after those already on the books. Those most vulnerable do not have any options; they can only rely on state health care. 

The depressing reality is that most of us will dread the throbbing in our heads, pain in our side, a lump on the body and may not even think of visiting a specialist despite the expense to our health. Those who require urgent medical assistance can bang on the chamber door but may never hear reassurance. People suffer alone, without medical help. The current state of our healthcare system simply does not give access to so many people. This is particularly true for those who need it most, for those who rely so much on the proper funding of this great institution. 

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