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Representing you at the Assembly’s Health Committee meeting

Yesterday we represented members at the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Health Committee meeting, making the case to the nine MLA members about the opportunities the Health and Social Care Board bill presents.

Watch coverage from the Health Committee. It starts at 02:03:20. Caroline Lappin’s contribution starts at 02.12:40. She explains what dentistry in Northern Ireland really needs at this time.

The bill will dissolve the Regional Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) which presents a unique context to overhaul how dentistry and oral health is administered within the Department of Health (DoH). It will have direct implications for dentists and oral health. But as significant are the indirect implications for dental administration that will follow from HSCB closure and we have urged the committee to consider this carefully.

We’ve asked for the administration of dentistry to be brought under a new dental unit to be created within the DoH: fixing how dentistry is administered within the Department is the precursor to being able to make much needed progress on a new GDS contract; on prioritising dentistry’s place in the DoH; and on a new overarching Oral Health policy.

We want progress on tackling our considerable oral health inequalities; in ensuring the public has continued access to Health Service dentistry going forward by reforming Health Service dentistry to be financially viable in its own right; and to achieve a reformed, refocused and outward-looking oral health system - comprising all dental services - that can make a combined impact on some of the biggest public health challenges we face.

Northern Ireland has for too long been without a clear strategy for tackling oral health inequalities. Our thanks to Caroline Lappin Chair of BDA Northern Ireland Council and Clinical Director of Community Dental Services in the South Eastern Trust, and Tristen Kelso, BDA Northern Ireland Director, who represented patients and members on these important issues.