Northern Ireland’s dentists are being urged to encourage their patients to join the British Dental Association (BDA) campaign against proposed cuts that are set to affect Health Service dental care.
The campaign asks members to display three specially-designed posters highlighting the threats contained in proposals put forward by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS). The posters, which have been sent to BDA members across Northern Ireland, invite patients to join dental professionals in opposing the cuts on a dedicated Facebook campaign page: www.facebook.com/NiDentalCuts.
The aim of the campaign is to persuade DHSSPS to reconsider a raft of budgetary proposals that would effectively cap government spending on Health Service dentistry. The proposals would restrict the availability of orthodontic care, see specific treatment items become subject to a prior approvals process and restrict the frequency at which scaling and polishing treatments are available to patients. The cuts could even, the BDA believes, threaten the viability of some dental practices.
Dr Peter Crooks, Chair of the BDA’s Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee, said:
“I urge GDPs across Northern Ireland to join this campaign and encourage their patients to do the same. These proposals are an attack on Health Service Dentistry. It is incumbent on all dentists to ensure their patients understand that they and their families would be affected and play a part in resisting what we believe could be very damaging cuts.
“Dentists have worked hard in recent years to improve access for patients, provide quality care and fight oral health inequalities. Restricting the resources now, at a time when more patients than ever are being treated by the Health Service, doesn’t make sense. You cannot provide the same quality care to an increased number of patients for a similar amount of funding. The sums simply don’t add up.
“We appreciate the pressures that public service budgets are currently under, but restricting Health Service dentistry now could have long-term repercussions. Government must think very carefully about whether these proposals are really the answer to the financial pressures it is facing.”
Dentists are also being encouraged to contact their Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and local media to voice their concerns. The BDA’s campaign of opposition has already seen coverage by BBC Northern Ireland and the Belfast Telegraph, and BDA Northern Ireland has given evidence directly to the Stormont Health Committee to explain its concerns.