Alison is leading the way

A Dublin consultant in special care dentistry has won the Health Management Institute of Ireland’s Leaders Award 2015.

Dr Alison Dougall, an academic consultant at Dublin Dental University Hospital, won the prestigious award for her project entitled ‘Promoting improved access to dental care for people living with haemophilia in Ireland and encouraging a culture of oral health promotion within the teams that treat them’.

The awards ceremony was held in The Pillar Room at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin and saw the seven finalists make their presentations in front of the national judging panel and an audience of their peers.

After picking up her award, Dr Dougall explained why she started the project in the first place. She said: “Haemophilia and dentistry had always had a tenuous connection and oral health had a huge impact on the health of people with haemophilia over the years, with some people diagnosed after a tooth was extracted in childhood.

“There was a fundamental problem to overcome in changing practice in that patients with haemophilia were scared of dentists and dentists were scared of people with haemophilia. Doctors were terrified of the whole lot and catastrophised every dental intervention, insisting on factor replacement before every dental procedure.

“This imposed significant barriers to maintaining good oral health with high personal cost to people who were suffering from poor oral health and also impacted on the financial cost in sorting out the resulting dental problems with requirement for hospital in-patient stays and expensive factor replacement treatment.”

She continued by saying: “I realised it was time to change our approach to oral health for people with haemophilia and join the mouth and teeth up to the rest of the body. I got together with the HSE, people with haemophilia and the Irish Haemophilia Society. My vision was to increase access to safe care in the most appropriate setting closest to home and I could not have achieved this without patient involvement and trust from the haemophilia community and the teams that treat them.”