When we have the honour of representing our members, it is important to measure our success on achievements, rather than what we do. In fact, this is a focus of the whole BDA within the strategic plan for the next three years.
Sometimes, when we in the BDA are continually frustrated by the lack of Government, with civil servants constantly telling us "…how they feel our pain, but without ministers their hands are tied…", it is hard to notice the many achievements that are being made on your behalf.
A time for reflection at the end of a year is, in my opinion, no bad thing, as it gives us the chance to acknowledge the positive steps being made, as well as setting our priorities for the next twelve months.
Developing stakeholder relationships
One of the most important achievements in 2018 has been, with the support of BDA Northern Ireland Director, Tristen Kelso, the ongoing development of positive relationships with other stakeholders.
As you might expect, our core work on your behalf is engagement with the Department of Health, the Health and Social Care Board, The Business Services Organisation, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority and the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency.
Much of this goes on behind the scenes, but we hope you are assured that we are working tirelessly on your behalf.
Over the last 12 months we have also developed important links with our local politicians, the media and organisations such as the Public Health Agency, Cancer Focus, the BMA and the Irish Dental Association, to name just a few.
Good working relationships and mutual respect in any forum is a prerequisite for meaningful engagement. That respect will not deter either party from robustly making an argument for what they believe to be correct, but it can mean everyone's views are effectively listened to.
All respect is built on trust and that should never be taken for granted.
Tackling stress in dentistry
Specific workstreams for the BDA's Northern Ireland Council include our work in supporting dentists experiencing overwhelming stress, the potential impact of Brexit and engagement with the Department of Health on the Dental Workforce Review and the larger transformation agenda.
These are difficult times in dentistry, with a massive reduction in practice income most businesses would struggle to cope with, a CDS where modernisation of a contract voted on nearly three years ago is still to be implemented, and a hospital and academic service striving to deliver high quality treatment, teaching and research with reduced funding.
But I believe in dentistry and dentists.
I believe that dentistry is an important part of healthcare and a healthy mouth is just as important as a healthy heart. I believe our patients think that too.
Stress remains a real concern, and this is borne out by a recent BDA survey that shows that there continues to be very worrying levels of stress and burnout, particularly amongst GDPs and community dentists, with those aged 35‐44 worst affected.
In GDPs, scores typically increase as the proportion of NHS work increases – find out more about our work on this issue.
In Northern Ireland, our 'Probing stress in dentistry' project, will continue to work to raise awareness stress in our profession and help signpost those who are feeling overwhelmed to appropriate services. LINK
There are two one‐hour CPD modules to help you become more stress aware on the BDA CPD hub, both are available to BDA and non‐BDA members.
Better regulation for dentistry
Improving regulation is a priority for all our negotiations; we have been championing-right touch regulation for dentistry and dentists.
We know dentists continually demonstrate a high compliance rate from the regulators and that we are held in high regard by our patients.
We will continue to call for regulation that works for dentists and their patients, and to ensure that dentists are not unnecessarily burdened by bureaucracy.
Making life easier
This year, we've also been working on some changes to improve your experience when interacting with us online.
Our new online booking system for CPD events, is now up and running and we are continuing to test and improve it. If you have any comments, do let us firstname.lastname@example.org.
The BDA's new member series, aiming to bring CPD and networking closer to you, have been well received and we've run two in Northern Ireland, which were free for our Expert Members.
Our representatives across the Northern Ireland Committees and those giving their time and organising activities at the Branch level, are to be applauded for their commitment this year – we thank you enormously.
We hope that others will step up and take part, we seek to represent the diversity of dentistry across Northern Ireland, but we need your help to be able to do that.
Looking ahead to 2019
We are delighted to see Peter Crooks taking up the Northern Ireland seat on the BDA's board (Principal Executive Committee) in January 2019, following the long-standing tenure of Philip Henderson, who we'd like to thank for his enormous contribution over the years.
Finally, on a personal note, 2019 will be the year that I am honoured and humbled to be installed as the BDA's President. This honour is not just mine, but one for all Northern Ireland dentistry, and the orthodontic speciality.
After my installation, I will be honoured to award Claudette Christie, our NI Branch President for 2019, Life Membership of the Association for her contribution to the BDA.
In my Presidential year I hope to work hard to champion the amazing work our dentists do. Being part of the 'dental family' has always been an important part of our profession, not just for the tangible support it gives, but also for the interaction with colleagues, which is so important for all our mental well‐being.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy new year.
Roz McMullan, Chair Northern Ireland Council & BDA President-elect
BDA Northern Ireland
BDA Northern Ireland supports, represents and promotes, the interests of all dentists working in Northern Ireland. Working with elected committee members, we negotiate on behalf of the profession on terms and conditions, pay and contracts. Join us.