world : 'Exodus' of NHS dentists in NI, warns BDA

world : 'Exodus' of NHS dentists in NI, warns BDA
world : 'Exodus' of NHS dentists in NI, warns BDA

Thursday 13 June 2024 10:31 PM

Nafeza 2 world - An "exodus" of dentists from the NHS in Northern Ireland is "well under way", according to the British Dental Association (BDA).

Ciara Gallagher from the BDA was giving evidence to Stormont's health committee on Thursday, which heard there was now a waiting list "to leave NHS dentistry".

Ms Gallagher said NHS work is down by 30% as practices "unshackle" themselves from the NHS.

The senior dentist was scathing of the actions of the Department of Health towards the sector, and said there had been a complete breakdown in trust.

She said most dentists were small businesses who had no power over setting fees and were given little government help.

"These fees are set by the Department of Health, who neither know, or have taken any meaningful steps to find out, the true costs to provide dental care," she said.

"Departmental affordability trumps all other considerations, and so the downward trajectory at practice level gets cumulatively worse," she added.

Ms Gallagher, who is chair of the BDA's dental practice committee, said rising costs and virtually static fee payments were the root cause of "the current unfolding crisis".

She said dentists did not go on strike, but instead leave the profession and do not return.

The BDA has called on the Department of Health to come up with a comprehensive plan to tackle the issue and said it should follow the lead of the Scottish government which had saved its dentistry sector from collapse.

"Our lived experience has been one of denial, prevarication, lip-service and more recently broken promises," said Ms Gallagher.

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