BDA Northern Ireland criticises cuts proposal

Association’s campaign against treatment restrictions gathers pace

Proposed cuts to General Dental Services in Northern Ireland are deeply flawed and must be reconsidered, the British Dental Association (BDA) has warned.

The association was responding to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s consultation on the treatment available in General Dental Services, with the Northern Irish branch warning that the proposals will undermine dentists’ attempts to improve oral health in communities by placing restrictions on treatment.

The proposals would slash the funding available to dental practices, make many treatments – including bridges and some root canal work – subject to bureaucratic prior approval processes that will cause anxiety and uncertainty for patients, and undermine the patient-practitioner relationship.

The BDA has also warned that the proposals could, if implemented, have unforeseen economic consequences for dental practices and businesses that depend on their custom.

Dr Peter Crooks, chairman of BDA’s Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee, said: “It’s time for Government to admit that this is a dangerous, deeply flawed cocktail of change and think again. The proposals threaten oral health, patient care, jobs and the viability of dental practices. They are based on saving money and put pounds before patients.

“At a time when we should be doing everything in our power to intensify our efforts to fight the poor oral health that plagues too many of Northern Ireland’s communities, these proposals ask patients to accept a downgraded core service that puts health service bureaucracy before patient care. That is, quite simply, wrong.”

The BDA in Northern Ireland led a campaign of opposition to the proposals, encouraging dentists and patients to make their views on the consultation – which closed in early April – known. A BDA petition has so far attracted more than 5,000 signatures.