BDA Scotland is calling on candidates for election to Scottish Parliament to focus on a series of important issues facing oral health. In its manifesto for the May elections the BDA sets out six priorities for the new Government:
Focus on the quality of patient care
Improve the oral health of Scotland’s most vulnerable patients
Ensure that Scotland has a properly-funded NHS dental service
Recognise the contribution of mixed dental practice
Invest in Scotland’s dental workforce
Let communities choose fluoridated water.
The manifesto, Something to smile about, 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 Scotland are urged to lobby election candidates, reminding them of the oral health challenges dentists face and explaining the particular issues that confront the constituencies prospective MSPs seek to represent. Importantly, members should call on candidates to pledge to promote the oral health of Scotland 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:
It is important to ensure that you are aware of who your candidates are. Do not assume your current MSP 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 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 Scotland’s manifesto as a starting point, but make sure you explain the particular local issues that are affecting patients and dentists.
Use the media. The letters pages of local newspapers will be a hotbed of debate in the period before the elections, so use the opportunity to raise dental issues. 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 has written 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 information that might be useful.