Our focus for 2019 will centre around ensuring sustainable careers for those working in NHS dentistry and beyond.
Falling levels of morale and motivation continue to be a real problem for dentists working in Scotland and we want to do something about that.
We will continue to monitor the Scottish Government's implementation of the Oral Health Improvement Plan, and to highlight the issues and concerns of our members on the ground, to call for a properly funded dental service, ensuring access for all patients who need it.
Some key areas we will be working on this year include:
1. Pay and terms and conditions
Through the comprehensive evidence we submit each year the UK Government's pay review body (DDRB), we highlight the concern trends of falling incomes and rising costs for dentists.
This year, we are asking for a pay uplift that starts to redress the 30% real-terms pay cut that dentists have faced over the past decade and we're highlighting the real issues in recruitment and retention of dentists and the need for an urgent solution.
2. Ensuring a dental workforce for the future
One key area for us is ensuring that we have a motivated and content workforce, for now and for the future.
Our surveys of dentists continue to show a fall in morale and motivation, rising levels of stress and the need for action. We will continue to highlight the stress that dentists are under and call for solutions.
In the PDS, we are concerned about the diminishing workforce, and the impact this is having on patient care. Many are leaving/retiring, and NHS Boards are struggling to recruit and we need a workable plan of action.
3. Safeguarding public health
Ensuring public health is safeguarded continues to be on our agenda.
We want prevention, rather than cure. If dentists get the opportunity to detect
oral cancers early on, then lives can be saved.
We will be following up on the actions we outlined in our Oral Cancer Action Plan. We'd like to find out how the NHS Boards are doing in this area and assess the impact on patient care and outcomes.
We plan to build on the recent constructive discussions we've had with the Minister for Public Health on water fluoridation, and ensure a joined-up preventative approach, with other relevant groups.
4. Oral Health Risk Assessment
The Oral Health Risk Assessment is a major upcoming OHIP priority, it will impact on dental-recall intervals and the frequency of scale and polish treatments. We plan to take a proactive approach to shape the discussions.
5. Reducing oral health inequalities
OHIP Action 7 includes the Community Challenge Fund, we'd like to hear from the dental profession on how this might work in practice.
We'll also be highlighting the situation of vulnerable groups of patients, including the homeless, prisoners and special needs patients, calling on Scottish Government to ensure these patients access the right care at the right time.
Your representatives who take part on our committees will continue to lobby for change and try to steer dentistry on the right path.
We welcome new members getting involved and supporting us, as we drive our agenda forward. If you are interested in getting more involved, do get in touch.
Phil Grigor, BDA Scotland National Director
BDA Scotland supports, represents and promotes, the interests of all dentists working in Scotland. Working with elected committee members, we negotiate on behalf of the profession on terms and conditions, and pay and contracts. Join us.