Why having a voice is so important: a young dentist’s perspective

I’m a member of the BDA Young Dentists Committee which focuses on issues facing dentists up to 10 years post-graduation. Current issues we are working on include foundation training and confidence amongst new graduates, employment status, commissioning guidelines and NHS pensions.

Dentists vary in age and location and there will be things that are personal to each and every one of us. The BDA provides a platform to express your views – if you are thinking it, be assured that there are others in your position, who would also benefit from your input!

I find it very rewarding when the BDA takes action on our ideas. It can be difficult to articulate and execute ideas without having a team behind you, and the BDA is a major network and has a history of influencing change. Being involved is also a great way of keeping in touch with current issues, meeting those at the forefront of dentistry, as well as learning valuable skills, such as negotiating and team working.

I also represent Merseyside on the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee which is a large committee made up of two members from each area who articulate the views of their locality, aiming to ensure that all GDPs are represented nationally. This Committee is a driving force for policy change and action. Current topics include dental contract reform, devolution of dental care, contract uplift, and managed clinical networks. We also get updates on the latest strategies from other organisations, such as COPDEND and the Department of Health.

I cross-represent the BDA’s Central Committee for Dental Academic Staff (CCDAS), ensuring any concerns of those working in dental academia are relayed to the BDA Young Dentists Committee. For me, it is really important to ensure that ideas and opinions are shared, as this makes us stronger as a representative organisation.

Outside the BDA, I also sit on the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK), which also aims to influence dental policy. As vice-chair of their Strategic Affairs Committee, I have had the opportunity to comment on forthcoming NICE guidelines and GDC policy.

What are the current issues on the BDA’s agenda?

Some of the big issues the BDA is working on at the moment include:

Satisfactory completion of dental foundation training: ensuring this is an effective way of supporting young dentists and not an unnecessary burden on DFTs and their trainers.

Dental contract reform: ensuring there is sufficient capitation within the new dental contract, and that the contract is prevention focussed with appropriate remuneration.

Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) and contract uplift: ensuring that we get a fair contract uplift and that our pay is ring-fenced each year.

Commissioning guidelines: commenting on the recent commissioning guidelines and endorsing them where appropriate.

System design: improving the NHS complaints system and handling of complaints, getting to grips with Compass, and managing unscheduled urgent care.

Can you help?

The BDA is the trade union for dentists and is here to represent you. If we don’t know what your thoughts and ambitions are, we cannot strive to improve policies to support them.

We are always on the lookout for new voices. If you feel like you would like to get involved in the BDA Young Dentists Committee or have any questions or input on current issues, then contact us at youngdentists@bda.org – we need you!

Johanna Bryant, BDA Young Dentists Committee and GDPC member

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Frustrated about the state of UK dentistry?

Then do something about it: stand for the BDA’s board. We need you to take part to fight for positive change for all dentists working in the UK. Find out more at www.bda.org/elections and share #fightingyourcorner

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