As Northern Ireland shifts to rebuilding and recovery, Tristen Kelso outlines how we are working to represent dentists.
At BDA Northern Ireland, we have worked many long days this month, but right now there’s simply no room to let up. We are focusing much of our energy and campaigns on maintaining the financial viability of practices in Northern Ireland and ensuring dentistry features more prominently in national recovery plans.
Rebuilding General Dental Services (GDS)
When the Northern Ireland Dental Practitioners Committee (NIDPC) met this week, we discussed the future shape of GDS support arrangements ahead of a move to Phase 2 of recovery. We will be engaging directly with the Department of Health and Social Care and HSCB officials on these matters over the coming days, and representing your interests.
Support for mixed and private practices
This week, we once again pushed the Minister for the Economy for financial support for mixed/private-oriented practices to mitigate private income foregone. We have also sought a legal opinion following the Acting Chief Dental Officer (CDO) announcing his desire for a single speed approach to apply to Health Service and private dentistry.
We’re taking every opportunity to campaign on your behalf. We plan to share further advice on this in the coming days in order to support practitioners make informed decisions. We will also be meeting with Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) on this issue in the very near future.
Including dentistry in national recovery plans
I believe it’s vitally important that dentistry and oral health are represented in Northern Ireland’s plans for recovery. That’s why, along with other trade unions, we’re pushing to shape the future of Health and Social Care services in Northern Ireland after the initial emergency phase of COVID-19.
Lead by NI Council, we have already presented a strong case to the Department of Health for dentistry to be represented on a new Management Board which will have significant influence over the rebuilding of HSC services for the next two plus years. We will continue to campaign for this, as it’s essential that dentistry is not overlooked.
Our Committee Chairs will meet with the Health Minister in two weeks' time. We will take the opportunity to reinforce the need for future financial support arrangements that are truly fit for purpose, and to ensure dentistry and oral health is suitably prioritised by the Department of Health in its rebuilding plans.
These are very difficult times for dentistry. But we are working round the clock to highlight member concerns, engaging with officials, shaping new guidance, as well as briefing politicians and the media. Enormous efforts are being made to achieve the best possible outcomes for all dentists in Northern Ireland.
National Director of BDA Northern Ireland