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What does the BDA's board chair for Northern Ireland do?

Blog Author Peter Crooks

Blog Date 29/01/2019

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I have just been elected for a three-year term as the Northern Ireland representative on the BDA’s board, officially known as the Principal Executive Committee (PEC), taking over from Philip Henderson who fulfilled the role for the last six years. 

Philip worked with great energy and enthusiasm – and continues to do so – to promote the BDA as the primary means of support for dentists in their efforts to provide the highest standards of care for their patients. ‘He’s a hard act to follow,’ I hear you say. You’re absolutely right.

So, now it’s my turn to help the BDA fulfil its aim of putting dentists at the centre of what we do. Let’s face it: there isn’t anyone else supporting dentists with the same vigour and effectiveness as the BDA.

A bit about my background. Although a member of the BDA since I was a student in Queen’s back in the 80s – with one lapse in membership, I confess – my more active involvement in the BDA is only over the last ten years. 

I was Chair of the Northern Ireland Local Dental Committee for three years, and became a member of the Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee in 2009, then elected to chair that committee from June 2010 to December 2017. 

As Chair, I was able to represent GDPs in Northern Ireland at meetings of the General Dental Practice Committee (GDPC) and GDPC Exec at the BDA in London, with the UK Government's pay review body (DDRB), with the Health Minister in Stormont (when we had a functioning government), Department of Health officials, the Health and Social Care Board, the Business Services Organisation and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, working to put across the dentists’ point-of-view and lobby on their behalf.

I know what it is like to get up every weekday morning and keep going: to provide the best care I could and make the right decisions as often as I could, to lead a dental team, look after the staff, the finances, write and fulfil the policies, prepare for the inspections, keep the building in good condition and with the remaining energy that hadn’t been sapped from me by all of the above, introduce new techniques and skills and everything else involved in running a successful practice. 

Now I hope to bring my experience and my knowledge of what it’s like being a dentist in Northern Ireland to the PEC. 

It was grim reading the latest research paper from Cardiff University and the BDA on stress, burnout and wellbeing in the BDJ. It says that more than half of dentists are currently experiencing high job stress, with almost half of the dentists saying they couldn’t cope with the level of stress in their job. 

Over 17% of all respondents had seriously thought about committing suicide at some point in their lives and over half of those had thought of it in the last twelve months.

This are shocking findings, but sadly, it doesn’t surprise me – I feel that our profession reallly has hit rock bottom, and we need change. 

If ever there was a time for dentists to support one another, it is now. We need to be there to help provide support for every dentist, whatever their field of practice, against the continual undermining of our profession by those who ought to know better. 

I urge every dentist to join and use the BDA – there is advice and support there for you, whether it be issues in practice management, dealing with the endless intricacies of compliance, or simply having a support network to air your frustrations and share your woes. 

The BDA Northern Ireland Branch is running an active programme of events this year, please come along and make the most of it. It’s all too easy to sit in your surgery and say you haven’t got time, but ultimately you will benefit from making time to get out of the bubble, and realise that you don't have to do it all alone - we are many, and we are working to ensure a better, more fulfilling, practising life for our dentists. 

Peter Crooks, BDA PEC member
Northern Ireland

BDA Northern Ireland

BDA Northern Ireland supports, represents and promotes, the interests of all dentists working in Northern Ireland. Working with elected committee members, we negotiate on behalf of the profession on terms and conditions, pay and contracts. Join us.