The Dentist Magazine.

Dentistry must feature as Stormont gets back to business

Published: 1/16/2020 12:00:00 AM

Welcoming the return of devolved government to Northern Ireland, the BDA has said now is the time for decisive action to address key issues facing dentistry.

The chairs of BDA Northern Ireland’s three committees have written to newly appointed health minister, Robin Swann MLA to highlight a number of key dental issues requiring attention. Issues raised range from urgent progress required on making a pay uplift for 2019/20 and addressing delays; prioritising oral health through to agreeing to a new oral health strategy; reducing the regulatory burden on dentists by moving away from annual RQIA inspections; and expediting workforce planning for the community dental service.

Tristen Kelso, BDA Northern Ireland director said, “Issues impacting on dentists and oral health in Northern Ireland have continued to stack up over the past three years with no government, but they also precede this period. 

"Wholly inadequate and delayed pay uplifts over the past decade have seriously eroded dentists pay and is threatening the financial viability of health service dentistry. Unsurprisingly, morale amongst dentists is lowest in Northern Ireland. Huge challenges exist regarding the state of oral health of children, and the elderly, a fact which is compounding as the population grows older.

“We are under no illusions that simply having Stormont back will be a panacea. However, we have been laying the groundwork for dentistry to feature more prominently”.

Tristen Kelso added that BDA will be urging the health minister to accept the recommendation of developing a new Oral Health Strategy put forward by Westminster’s NI Affairs Committee last November. He added that they were looking forward to the new oral health options groups on children and the elderly respectively meeting in the coming weeks, as well as the CDS workforce review taking place.

“Improving population health outcomes, particularly for children and most elderly in our society cannot be achieved without an adequate focus on oral health, as being integral to general health. Underpinning this is the need to value our dental practitioners”, he said.