Dentists urged to open up at BDA
 

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Dentists urged to open up at BDA

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Dentists urged to open up at BDA

 

Dentists urged to open up at BDA

Dentists were encouraged to engage with each other, their patients, and the wider healthcare profession at last month's BDA Conference.

Speakers from across the globe descended on Liverpool's Arena and Convention Centre for three days of lectures covering a wide range of topics from amalgam fillings to ethics in dentistry.

Despite the varied line up, engagement was a recurring theme in many lectures, tying in nicely with the conference tagline ‘The natural connection to your profession'.

News of Earl Howe's responsibility for dentistry in the new government broke just as the conference opened, giving the event an air of anticipation.

Many of the speakers seemed hopeful of reform while cautiously waiting to see what the new administration would do to the system – and the Steele pilots.

The keynote speaker, Dr Phil Hammond, echoed this sentiment as he captivated the audience with a witty speech that championed cooperation, accountability and communication. Praising the importance of the conference's social calendar, the GP-turned-broadcaster urged dentists to ‘open dialogue' with their patients about the limitations of NHS dentistry.

But he had a few words of warning for the massed profession as he discussed the new government's commitment to devolving power to front-line healthcare providers.

‘The reason they're devolving power to you is because they're also devolving blame,' he argued. ‘Moving more power to the front line sounds seductively good – but it means they want you to do more of the management, too.'

He ultimately praised the concept of local ownership, however, stressing that ‘controlling things from the centre doesn't make people more healthy'.

But he warned that it would not be easy if the coalition government succeeded where Labour failed.

Local ownership can work, he said – but only if dentists can admit when they make mistakes.

‘We can lambast the politicians for their failings, but if we do that we must embrace the mantle of self-regulation,' he said. ‘And that means reporting someone whose dentistry isn't up to
standard. We need a far more constructive culture of speaking up.'

He ended with a challenge to the dental profession, saying: ‘You need to empower yourselves.'

This challenge was taken up in a later session titled ‘Professional connections' that saw several leading names discuss the biggest issues facing NHS dentists.

Looking at the BDA's role within the profession, executive board chair Susie Sanderson alluded to the ‘vast range of issues' facing dentists in the new political climate.

She admitted to watching the government's comments on spending very closely, but added that the bridges built by the BDA at political party conferences last September would help them ‘hit the ground running'.

Professor Jimmy Steele also took to the stage to provide an overview of NHS dentistry with a characteristically positive bent.

Acknowledging the quirks of providing NHS dental care, he said: ‘Value for money in dentistry is not just “more at a lower price”. Tell that to your PCT finance directors! It's a complicated message because it's not standard economics, but it's one that we have to get across.' Helping government ministers and civil servants understand this could benefit everyone, he stressed, adding: ‘I believe that NHS dentistry could lead the world in providing an oral health service.'

GDPC chair John Milne repeated Professor Steele's sentiments but was quick to acknowledge the challenge they posed. ‘For NHS dentistry to lead the world requires change,' he said.

‘I believe the seeds of that change lie in our dissatisfaction with the 2006 reforms, but we need to engage constructively with the government. And that's scary; it requires trust. And there is very little trust between the profession and the government.'

Adding that the BDA was seeking an urgent meeting with the new minister for dentistry, he urged the profession to continue engaging – but be more proactive.

Elsewhere at the Conference, Nottingham-based dentist Amarjit Gill was named as the 124th president of the BDA, and was presented with his chain of office at the opening of the event.

Dr Gill will serve as president for a year, acting as an ambassador for the BDA both in the UK and overseas.

He said: ‘It is a great honour to become president of the BDA and I look forward to serving my fellow professionals in this capacity. It is a particular honour in this, the BDA's 130th year.

‘Dentistry is an innovative, caring profession that can transform patients' lives by giving them happy, confident smiles. I'm really proud of that and I look forward to meeting colleagues from the UK and overseas during my term of office.'

Coinciding with the BDA presidency, Dr Gill has also been appointed chief clinical dental advisor to Philips Oral Healthcare.

• Manchester will host next year's BDA Conference and Exhibition, from 19-21 May. For details nearer the time, visit www.bda.org/conference.


 Posted on : Thu 3rd - Jun - 2010

 

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