Dental influence rising in Parliament
 

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Dental influence rising in Parliament

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Dental influence rising in Parliament

 

Dental influence rising in Parliament

A young dentist from Scotland looks set to double the profession's representation in the House of Commons next month as he stands for election in a winnable seat.

Anas Sarwar, 27, is fighting to succeed his father Mohammad as Labour MP for Glasgow Central, where Labour currently enjoys a majority of more than 8,500 votes.

Also campaigning – for re-election – is Sir Paul Beresford, a practising dentist who has represented the Surrey seat of Mole Valley for the Conservatives since 1992.

At the last election, in 2005, Sir Paul won with a majority of just under 12,000 votes.

If both candidates are successful on 6 May, as is likely, the profession will gain what is believed to be its largest ever cohort in the Commons.

In addition, two former dentists will continue to sit in the House of Lords – Lord Colwyn and Baroness Gardner.

Speaking to Dentistry, Mr Sarwar, Sir Paul and Lord Colwyn all stressed the benefits of having the profession represented in Parliament, particularly when it came to making law.

Mr Sarwar, who spent just over four years as an NHS general practitioner in Paisley before
stepping down a few months ago to concentrate on campaigning, said: ‘It's always best if you have a Parliament that represents the diversity we have in society, in terms of age, gender, social background, race and also in terms of professions. I have got experience of what public services are really all about at the grass roots and the frontline and such experience can be useful when you are taking part in the policy making process.'

The candidate said while his priority, if elected, would be to represent his constituents, he would also campaign to tackle the ‘chronic shortage' of dentists in rural parts of Scotland, protect dentistry funding from the ‘danger' posed by spending cuts and ensure that any major changes to the service were properly piloted first.

He added: ‘I will be working hard to fight to make sure every single person has the same access and opportunity in all public services, including dentistry.'

Mr Sarwar admitted that juggling his full-time commitments to dentistry and campaigning had been ‘quite difficult', and said he had given a commitment to stop practising if elected, to concentrate on being a ‘full-time MP'. He would, however, seek to maintain his registration with the General Dental Council.

Lord Colwyn, who sits on the Conservative benches in the House of Lords, practised dentistry both in the NHS and privately for several decades, latterly specialising in sedation, before retiring as a dentist about three years ago.

The peer, aged 68, said having such a professional background ‘certainly helps Parliament', adding: ‘Having experts on the benches is what the House of Lords is all about.'

He said of himself and fellow ex-dentist Baroness Gardner: ‘We regularly bore the House on dental
problems and General Dental Council. I get a lot of correspondence from people and do what I can to make things easier for dentists and try to make sure dentistry is represented.'

As a Conservative deputy speaker in the upper chamber, Lord Colwyn is hoping for a Conservative election victory, but says Labour had ‘a lot of guts' to change the system from fee-per-item of service to units of dental activity. He says it is ‘important' that whoever forms the next government pilots any major changes before trying to introduce them nationally.

Sir Paul, the Conservative candidate for Mole Valley, who still runs a private practice in London, said he would advise any dentists entering Parliament for the first time to keep up their registration – and keep working, too.

He said: ‘It doesn't mean you are doing a part-time job as an MP. I work one and a half times the hours of a full-time job as an MP and a few hours as a dentist each week. I see people and meet people and know what their complaints are, as well as knowing what it's like to run a small business. I am in an educated position when it comes to discussions about dentistry. If we have got MPs in here that have outside jobs it can be a real asset to the House of Commons.'

A spokeswoman for the British Dental Association said: ‘Whilst the BDA doesn't endorse individual candidates standing for election, it's undoubtedly helpful to have elected representatives in parliament who are also dentists. The professional's expert knowledge and practical experience of dentistry can contribute significantly to dental debates as well as a providing a unique understanding of their constituents‚ concerns about oral health issues problems and I'm in touch with the British Dental Association and General Dental Council.

'I get a lot of correspondence from people and do what I can to make things easier for dentists and try to make sure dentistry is represented.'

As a Conservative deputy speaker in the upper chamber, Lord Colwyn is hoping for a Conservative election victory, but says Labour had ‘a lot of guts' to change the system from fee-per-item of service to units of dental activity.

He says it is ‘important' that whoever forms the next government pilots any major changes before trying to introduce them nationally.

Sir Paul, the Conservative candidate for Mole Valley, who still runs a private practice in London, said he would advise any dentists entering Parliament for the first time to keep up their registration – and keep working, too.

He said: ‘It doesn't mean you are doing a part-time job as an MP. I work one and a half times the hours of a full-time job as an MP and a few hours as a dentist each week. I see people and meet people and know what their complaints are, as well as knowing what it's like to run a small business. I am in an educated position when it comes to discussions about dentistry. If we have got MPs in here that have outside jobs it can be a real asset to the House of Commons.'

A spokeswoman for the British Dental Association said: ‘Whilst the BDA doesn't endorse individual candidates standing for election, it's undoubtedly helpful to have elected representatives in parliament who are also dentists.

'The professional's expert knowledge and practical experience of dentistry can contribute significantly to dental debates as well as a providing a unique understanding of their constituents‚ concerns about oral health issues.'


 Posted on : Fri 23rd - Apr - 2010

 

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