The voice of private dentistry in the UK
With all that’s going on with COVID-19, some believe that the unique situation of private dentistry has been overlooked by the Chancellor and regulators. Most of the official information out there right now is focused on NHS dentistry and professionals working within the NHS system. Giving dental professionals in the private sector a voice to fight their corner, a new group was established – the British Association of Private Dentistry (BAPD).
The organisation’s mission is to “Act as a conduit between our members, government and regulators, to ensure our voice is heard as a key contributor to decision-making in UK dentistry”. It welcomes all members of the dental team to become members and its proactive Facebook group quickly gained momentum with more than 8.5k members in just a few short weeks.
We speak to Dr Zaki Kanaan to tell us more about what the association stands for. He says:
“The BAPD is not a knee-jerk reaction to the current climate, it has been a long time coming and COVID-19 was just the tipping point. The extra time recently has given us an opportunity to put solid foundations in place and create the organisation from the ground up. We want this group to be for our members and as such have tried to start in an open and transparent way by asking for our members’ opinions and concerns every step of the way to ensure a truly democratic and representative group.
“We are also keen to remain as inclusive as possible for all professionals involved in the delivery of private dentistry. Consequently, we have reached out to and hope to work closely with various other professional bodies including those representing dental hygienists and therapists, dental and clinical dental technicians, dental nurses and practice managers. By discussing their members’ concerns, we can better support the whole dental team by addressing issues pertinent to them.”
In the years to come, the BAPD aims to promote clinical quality, have a voice in shaping a workable funding system for UK dentistry, support patient/professional education and enhance the indemnity model. Right now, it’s focused on helping private dental practices reopen in a safe way and address the inequities of financial support. Through its’ Facebook page, the BAPD has helped members to lobby their MPs about extending business rate relief to all small businesses in healthcare by providing letter templates, which have been very well received.
“We are focused on what we can do long-term, but we appreciate the importance of supporting colleagues in the private sector through the specific challenges of COVID-19,” Zaki continues. “Our most immediate concern was for our patients and the fact that we were unable to care for them. Stories of DIY dentistry due to UDC’s not being ready or widely available should not be in the headlines in our modern society. We have an army of private dental professionals ready to support the NHS, but due to a lack of representation and support from our regulatory bodies and government, we have been left on the sidelines; willing but unable to help. We have published a position statement with our views on how we can open up safely and continue to lobby that all dental businesses receive the help they need to survive in the future. We have therefore been liaising with groups such as the BDA and the FGDP to work together for better representation of the entire dental profession.”
The position paper highlights the challenges faced by private practices who wish to provide emergency care, as well as the potential holes in the science supporting use of PPE and its application (or lack of) to dentistry. It raises many questions that the organisation is working to get answers to and urges every professional to look carefully at the science before buying expensive equipment. It also recommends preparations for social distancing in the practice ready for when the doors do again open.