BDA Northern Ireland is calling on candidates for election to the Stormont Assembly to focus on a series of important issues facing oral health. In its manifesto for the May elections the BDA sets out six priorities:
Tackle Northern Ireland’s oral health problems
Invest in modern, preventive care
Guarantee care for vulnerable patients
Develop Northern Ireland’s skilled dental workforce
Reduce the burden of red tape on dentistry
Help local dentists deliver local solutions.
The manifesto, Better Smiles, can be downloaded here. Throughout the build-up to the election senior BDA officers will be blogging about the priorities identified in the manifesto. You can read their views and contribute to the debate in the communities section of the BDA’s website.
BDA members in Northern Ireland are urged to lobby election candidates, reminding them of the oral health challenges facing Northern Ireland as candidates seek election. Importantly, members should call on candidates to pledge to promote the oral health of Northern Ireland by addressing the priorities set out in the BDA’s manifesto if they are elected.
If you want to make a difference by campaigning to influence candidates, these basic tips might be useful:
Be aware of who your candidates are. Do not assume your current Assembly member will be returned. You will be able to find details on your candidates on each party’s website.
Think about whether your concerns might be shared with other local health practitioners; demonstrating that they are shared across health professions will help to impress their importance upon candidates.
Take advantage of opportunities that arise from candidates’ campaigning activities. If a candidate knocks on the door, tell them you are a dentist, show them the BDA’s manifesto and ask them if they will pledge their support for the priorities it identifies. If you attend a public meeting a candidate is addressing, ask a question that requires candidates to express their views on oral health and dentistry.
Make your own opportunities to talk about dentistry, either by writing to local candidates to set out your concerns and ask for their support, or by seeking a one-to-one meeting with them. If you wish to send them an extra copy of the manifesto, remember you can download one here.
Remember to set out what the priorities for oral health and dentistry are where you live. Use the priorities in BDA Northern Ireland’s manifesto as a starting point, but make sure you explain the particular local issues that are affecting patients and dentists.
Use the media. Local newspapers will be an avenue of debate in the period before the elections, so use them to raise dental issues by writing a letter for publication. Keep letters clear and concise and remember to explain why the issue you are raising has an impact on patient care.
Tell us what your candidates say. Although the BDA is writing directly to every candidate seeking their support for the priorities in the manifesto, extra intelligence about their views or pledges to support them could be useful in informing our public affairs activity following the election. Email Marlene Lough with any intelligence on candidates’ views that might be useful.