GREAT Western Hospital bosses have had a fantastic idea to help children and adults who fear dental treatment, writes BARRIE HUDSON.

The hospital has put together what it calls sensory toy boxes, which contain things like surgical gloves, little torches, masks and safety glasses.

The aim is to help nervous patients familiarise themselves with the sights, sounds and smells they might encounter, so they won’t suffer as much stress when the time comes to assume the position.

As with so many excellent ideas, I can’t help wondering whether this one could be extended to other situations.

Perhaps trainee dentists should be issued with sensory toy boxes of their own prior to being let loose on their first patients. I don’t know exactly what the contents would be, but I’d suggest garlic essence to get the dentist prepared for those patients who see nothing wrong with going out for a spicy meal the night before an appointment.

A DVD of classic crime thriller Marathon Man might be in order, too. It’s the one with Laurence Olivier as a war criminal dentist who tortures Dustin Hoffman by setting about his teeth with a drill. I’ve seldom met a fang farrier who’s gone for a month without having a patient quote from the scene, so young people entering the profession need to be brought up to speed.

Young doctors should also be issued with sensory toy boxes to prepare themselves for their future careers. They might include sound recordings of catastrophically drunk people raving and drooling, together with transcripts of whatever the drunk people were trying to say. It might seem an off-the-wall suggestion, but being familiar with the speech patterns of the utterly trollied would work wonders for any doctor who pulls a weekend shift in casualty.

So would an alarm clock that goes off every few minutes for about nine days straight. The doctors might as well get used to sleep deprivation as early as possible. That way they won’t be overly freaked out when they start hallucinating giant centipedes and stuff while treating folk.

The young doctors’ toy box might also include a little blood pressure monitor, a book of relaxation techniques and photographs of health ministers from various Governments dating back 20 years or so. Then the doctors would be able to train themselves not to drop dead of apoplexy the next time some politician tried to increase their hours, cut their wages or both.

Come to think of it, there should probably also be a selection of language courses on thumb drives, just in case the doctors eventually decided to flee the country.

And a copy of their student loan document to wave at idiots who say: “Doctors who leave the country should be made to pay back their training costs.”

Other professionals who’d benefit from help before being unleashed on the public would be new judges, barristers and any politician whose CV includes our better known public schools.

Maybe their sensory toy boxes should have a bunch of photographs of monkeys, cats, dogs and other animals. These would be labelled: “Animal.” There should also be a bunch of photos of showing people from various social classes, nationalities, races, creeds and backgrounds.

These would be labelled: “Human.”

It would be a great reminder to anybody who needed one that humans come in all manner of shapes, sizes, levels of social privilege and other variants, and that all are equally deserving of respect.