Friday, November 17, 2006

U.K. dental shortage leads man to superglue own tooth

The Brits have paid their government to provide them with health insurance but collecting what they have paid for is another matter

A man fixed his front tooth with superglue after failing to find an NHS dentist. Gordon Cook, 55, has used the bizarre "DIY dentistry" technique on a loose crown for the last three years - with each fresh application of glue lasting around two months. The father of seven, who was erased from his original dentist's register after moving to a new home in Tranmere, Merseyside, said he turned to glue after losing hope of finding a dentist. He said: "I tried to find a new dentist but they had all gone private. "A lot of them said they would take me on as an NHS patient, but only if I agreed to have the loose crown fixed as a private patient, which would cost around 100 pounds.

"In the end, I just decided to take matters into my own hands. I had read somewhere that super glue was invented for medical use, to bond skin, so I gave it a go. "I tried a few different brands but the one I use now, which is just called Industrial Super Glue, is the best. "You can't really taste it but you do have to be careful not to use too much, in case you glue your mouth shut." Mr Cook, a security manager, has now found an NHS dentist and hopes to have the crown fixed professionally.

Councillor Chris Blakeley, chairman of Wirral Council's social care and health overview and scrutiny committee, said: "Mr Cook's solution was rather extreme but he is not alone when it comes to dentistry horror stories. "People are finding it extremely difficult to find an NHS dentist, and we are currently gathering evidence to assess the scale of the problem, which is not unique to this area."



Only safe for the moment

The centuries-old British craft of barometer-making has won a reprieve from a European Union ban on the use of toxic metal in measuring devices. Although the mercury thermometer is being consigned to history, barometer production and restoration, kept alive by three British companies, survived thanks to a lobbying campaign at the European Parliament. MEPs voted by 327 to 274 yesterday for an amendment exempting manufacturers from the ban. They were persuaded that the last producers could do more to protect the environment if they were allowed to stay in business, offering recycling and repair services.

However, European green campaigners vowed to carry on their fight to outlaw the mercury barometer along with the thermometer, the manometer and the sphygmomanometer (for measuring blood pressure), all of which, under the EU directive, are no longer to be made.

Philip Collins, owner of Barometer World in Merton, Devon, which employs five staff, said: "For once it was a victory for the little guy." His campaign, backed by the Federation of Small Businesses and the Conservative MEP Martin Callanan, argued that the barometer industry accounted for a tiny fraction of mercury compared with thermometer production. Annual usage for thermometers and other medical devices was put at more than 25 tonnes in Europe compared with 60kg for new and repaired barometers. "The idea of the directive is to stop mercury getting into the environment - but if people like us are put out of business, people who break their barometer will have nowhere to go for repairs and it is more likely to end up as waste," Mr Collins said. "Some barometers we make sell for 2,000 pounds - they do not get thrown away if they break, they get repaired." His signature barometer is the Admiral Fitzroy, named after the first head of the Met Office, who used mercury measurements to produce the first published weather forecast, which appeared in The Times on July 31, 1861.

Matthew Knowles, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "This vote has prevented the strange situation where more mercury would have entered the environment in the name of green policies." Mr Callanan said that safety warnings and controls would allow the continuation of barometer manufacturer and repair, safeguarding jobs at eight producers around Europe. He added: "Mercury does need to be controlled, but banning the household barometer is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. "The barometer industry in the UK may be small, but it is a tradition that harks back to our maritime roots. A ban would see the end of the tradition of barometer-making begun in the mid-1600s when mercury barometers were introduced."
However, yesterday's development was only the first reading of the directive. When it returns to MEPs in six months, Greens will try again to have new barometers outlawed.

The Swedish Green MEP Carl Schlyter said yesterday: "The decision of the European Parliament to exempt barometers from an EU ban on measuring devices risks completely derailing this legislative proposal on this highly toxic substance. "It is a disgrace that a handful of small producers should be able to hold public health to ransom by de facto blocking an agreement on the phase-out of mercury, and it is irresponsible of those MEPs who have pushed for this."


Islamic fruitcake works in British immigration office: "A senior member of the Islamist group Hizb ut- Tahrir is working as a computer technician at the Home Office, despite calls by Tony Blair for the group to be banned. The activist, named as Abid Javaid, is said to be an official at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate in Croydon, one of the department's most sensitive branches. Shortly after the July 7 bombing attacks, the Prime Minister included the group in a list of those he planned to proscribe, but it has not been among those banned. An investigation by the BBC Two programme Newsnight also claimed that the group preached hatred to young men using staged videos of persecution of Muslims. Newsnight said that Hizb ut-Tahrir targeted disaffected youngsters, particularly the unemployed and members of gangs in South London, and encouraged them to attack non-believers - a claim denied by the group's spokesman, Abdul Wahid, on the programme... The Home Office refused to confirm whether Mr Javaid worked at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate but added: "All Home Office civil servants are expected to abide by Home Office rules governing their conduct and are subject to the Civil Service Code."

Nuke attack on Britain: "British intelligence officials believe that al-Qaida is determined to attack the UK with a nuclear weapon, it emerged yesterday. The announcement, from an officially organised Foreign Office counter-terrorism briefing for the media, was the latest in a series of bleak assessments by senior officials and ministers about the terrorist threat facing Britain. UK officials have detected "an awful lot of chatter" on jihadi websites expressing the desire to acquire chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons. Asked whether there was any doubt that al-Qaida was trying to gain the technology to attack the west, including the UK, with a nuclear weapon, a senior Foreign Office counter-terrorism official said: "No doubt at all."

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