THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW Highlighting best practice
The great team behind our patients’ care
Society expects high standards of ethical professionalism from graduates to professors, and while experience does provide a measure of this, the newly qualified dentist is not afforded the opportunity to learn ethics from mistakes. The risks of failure are too high to be able to do this, and so I believe educators and dental schools need to realise that a complete and overarching ethical curriculum should be meaningfully inculcated into the dental undergraduate experience. For postgraduates, we need to develop a strong sense of accountability. We need to be brave in adopting an inspiring message that will challenge people to look at how we can change the fact that poor dental work can often go unchallenged and we have a system of dental care that is at best outdated and at worst failing the population. The standard of political support for dental healthcare reform in Northern Ireland is at a low, and without a sitting government, we cannot achieve meaningful progress. With this backdrop, I am moving further away from the NHS as a practice; however, I know I am able to provide better care for my patients, and until there is a government that
puts people’s dental care as a priority, I will hold to this trajectory. We need good leaders, and at the moment, they are simply not there. I am sure the majority of dentists go to their places of work to care for patients; however, I would make a plea to the future governance of dentistry that they find a better way to regulate the dentists who can perform poorly and then simply walk away from the profession and into retirement without recrimination. We need to find a way to change this in Northern Ireland, where currently, a dentist can retire themselves away from fair accountability, and a patient’s only recourse is to litigate against them. This is a deeply unsatisfactory position to find ourselves in. It sends a wholly demoralising message to active dentists engaged in the challenges of everyday dentistry and promotes a survival mentality in some colleagues where retirement is imminent. There is no substitute for great levels of care, competence and communication. The demands of dentistry are real, as are the responsibilities, and the way to thrive as a professional is to embrace them.
There is no substitute for great levels of care, competence and communication