First published in the July 2018 issue of The Dental Technician. Republished with kind permission of Larry Browne, editor of The Dental Technician
MPs worlds’ are immersed in campaigns. A large proportion of our mail or email boxes are filled with campaigning letters. The variety is endless ranging from the serious to the moderately insane.
Naturally at the moment we are all inundated with pro and anti Brexit letters. There are a number of groups who lobby anti-government issues regardless of the colour of the Government at the time. The aim of these groups is to inundate MPs with letters and emails often utilising spurious or incorrect information. Phrases which are downright lies posing as facts are frequent.
Our UK voters include a huge proportion of easily influenced animal lovers. Campaigns to save badgers and elephants for example produced huge volumes of letters. One notorious “save the elephant” campaign from several years ago raised huge sums of public money but few if any elephants were saved
However, some campaigns and some campaigning groups are genuine and produce real change for the betterment of our world. WWF is one such international organisation that drew enormous respect and trust from me when I was a minister in the then Department for the Environment.
Having spent time with the Metropolitan Police Paedophile unit I decided to launch my own quiet long running campaign for legal improvements for protection of children against abuse. Obviously working closely with some of those cops as advisors was a basic source. There are a number of organisations offering help and advice. Some good, some poor, but the NSPCC were the best. Very many changes were achieved with their help.
As a dentist my longest running dental campaign has been for HPV inoculation, through the NHS, for young boys. Several MPs and several groups have been campaigning for this change as well. For years the Health Ministers have hidden behind the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. This august body of mostly professors has consistently rejected the idea of full vaccination of boys.
There are a number of HPV viruses and 2 are very nasty. The vaccination of girls against the HPV virus is to stop cervical cancer. These HPV viruses also cause penal cancer and genital warts. Slowly but surely there will be a reasonable herd immunity amongst most girls against the virus. I am saying reasonable because the vaccination is far from 100% Many girls start the course but do not complete the course. Many do not even start the course.
These nasty viruses also cause between 35 & up to 70% of head and neck cancer depending on the anatomical site. For example, up to 70% of oropharyngeal cancers are caused by HPV
Treatment of head and neck cancers are often debilitating, disfiguring and destructive of the patients and their self-esteem. Frequently radiology and/or surgery is required, involving the face, the jaw and teeth, the neck, the tongue, the pharynx, the larynx, the oesophagus, or combinations of them. Physical disfigurement is common, and speech and eating can be significantly impaired. In the global ranking of cancer deaths, head and neck cancers rank fifth. Furthermore, the prevalence of head and neck cancer is markedly higher in males than in females—a ratio of approximately 2:1. The frequency of head and neck cancer is one of the fastest increasing of all cancers in the UK. The cost to the NHS of treatment is astronomical.
The development of the required herd immunity will take time. The financial benefits in the reduction of genital warts will be some years off but will be significant. The reduction in head and neck cancer will be dramatic but three or more decades away. Any health minister juggling budgets now needs the foresight to pay now. I understand that that would cost would be about another £22 million per year. That is small beer when set against the £58 million spent on treating genital warts and is well below the over £300 million spent on head and neck cancer treatment.
You can help. Please write to or send an email to your MP asking for him or her to write to Matt Hancock MP as the decision will be made soon.
Sir Paul Beresford is a British Conservative Party politician, practising dentist and the Member of Parliament for Mole Valley.