Recently elected BDA Board member, Shareena Ilyas, explains why she thinks every BDA member should cast their vote in the current Board elections.
I was elected to the BDA’s Board in April 2020. I’ve always believed in getting involved, and that’s why I stood for a seat on the BDA’s Board, I want to make a difference.
This year there are six seats up for election. Three of these are regional seats (Eastern, North West, West Midlands), one is a country seat - Wales and two are UK-wide representatives.
An amazing 37 candidates have put themselves forward. I’d like to think all BDA members will be keen to read the candidates’ statements before enthusiastically filling out your ballots. However, the reality is that, historically, only 10% of the membership vote in the BDA’s Board elections.
I’ve heard lots of excuses over the years as to why some people don’t vote and I want to dispel some of those common myths. In doing so, I hope to encourage all of you to please take part and vote.
1. ‘The BDA’s Board isn’t relevant to me’
I think a lot of us switch off when it comes to governance and process issues. But what the BDA’s board does is essential to every BDA member and every dentist across the UK.
Being a board member has exposed me to so many different facets of the profession. We all tend to focus on the issues that affect us day to day, but as a non-executive director of the BDA, it is your responsibility to look beyond your own experiences.
The Board is at the top of the BDA’s democratic structure. It oversees the strategy, policy and business plans for the BDA, and holds the Chief Executive and his staff to account. It’s not just about policy and lobbying though. We respond to issues being faced by you, the members. We ask the BDA’s elected representative committees to consider the issues and to suggest fair and pragmatic actions, which the Board will then vote on.
Alongside this we are running the business of the BDA, ensuring that the organisation is financially sound, ensuring legal and administrative regulations are adhered to and that we have a strategy to move us forward.
You have every reason to care about who sits on that Board. Please read all of the statements before making your choice.
2. 'There’s no point in voting, you can’t change anything’
It’s the chicken and egg argument, isn’t it? Often, it’s so much easier to take the backseat and complain on the sidelines, because nothing will ever change. But I believe things can change, and that’s why I got involved.
I currently sit at a table that I agree is not entirely representative of the demographic of dentistry in the UK and this clearly needs to change. And it can.
Government and commissioners often overlook the profession. We have seen dentistry almost left out of 15 years of policy. The public narrative can be quite negative towards us, even though we get the highest ratings from patient satisfaction surveys amongst healthcare professionals.
Most things can’t be solved overnight, but if we work together, I believe positive change can happen. It’s our chance to make a difference.
3. ‘I’m not a member, so I can’t vote’
I have talked to people over the years from my LDC, to dental events, and even sometimes dentists at local Branch and Sections meetings, who say: ‘I’m not a member because I just can’t see the value’.
The issue here is that if you don’t use it, then you won’t see the value.
The BDA’s basic membership fee of £37 a month might feel like yet another cost to consider. But the value is not just about what you are getting right now, it’s about how you can influence the direction of your career. It’s about discovering the wealth of opportunities that open up to you when you become a part of your professional association.
If you are not currently a member, I encourage you to rethink that decision.
And when you do join, please take an active part. Use your voice and your influence and come and work with an inspiring group of people who have the same goals as you. Be part of an association that supports what you do.
Together we are stronger.
All ballots must be returned (by post) by noon on 26 November. Please ensure you fill out the ballot correctly - by numbering the candidates in order of preference.
If you have any questions please email our elections team: firstname.lastname@example.org.
BDA Board Member
Chair BDA Education, Ethics and the Dental Team Working Group