The Dentist Magazine.

Westminster report recommendation for a new Northern Ireland Oral Health Strategy ‘highly significant’, says the BDA

Published: 11/6/2019 12:00:00 AM

Oral health has featured prominently in the Health Funding in Northern Ireland report, published by the influential Westminster Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

Among the recommendations contained in the report, is a recommendation, ‘that the Department of Health commits to developing a new oral health strategy for Northern Ireland, in collaboration with the dental profession, to be published in draft by early 2021’.

The report refers to Northern Ireland having some of the poorest oral health outcomes in the United Kingdom. It gives a damning critique of the current oral health strategy, ‘being based on obsolete data from 2003’, and says that it ‘does not contain any up-to-date targets for optimising services and improving outcomes’. It states…’fresh direction and impetus are needed to improve Northern Ireland’s oral health. This will not be achieved with a piecemeal approach, but requires an overarching, evidence-based strategy with associated targets to work towards’.

Interim Chair of the BDA’s NI Council, Caroline Lappin said, “We very much welcome the focus this NI Affairs Committee report rightly places on oral health in Northern Ireland, in particular where significant gaps and challenges remain. As what is effectively the only democratic scrutiny committee overseeing health policy in Northern Ireland at present, it makes the remarks all the more significant.

“We clearly welcome the Committee’s unequivocal recommendation, and the logic underpinning this, as to why a new oral health strategy for Northern Ireland, to be developed in collaboration with the dental profession, is necessary.”

Last month, BDA highlighted the enormous oral health challenges faced in Northern Ireland, and the need to tackle these together in a strategic way at its landmark Oral Health matters event at Stormont, attended by politicians, policymakers and advocates.

Caroline Lappin added, “We welcomed the Chief Dental Officer’s announcement at Oral Health Matters to establish two new Oral Health Options Groups. These are an important first step in looking at where progress can be made that can lead to improve the oral health of children and the elderly.”

BDA NI Director, Tristen Kelso said, “Not least for the reasons highlighted in this report, there is a clear imperative on the Department of Health to respond positively to the recommendation to commit to develop a draft new oral health strategy by early 2021. We call on the Permanent Secretary to prioritise oral health.”