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News / June 19, 2008

BDA rep slams proposed outsourcing in the North

by Guy Hiscott

Barry McGonigle, a senior member of the Northern Ireland branch of the British Dental Association, has told the Western Health and Social Services Council of his concerns for the future of dentistry in the north-west of the country.

At the Council’s monthly meeting, Mr McGonigle said he held deep concerns for the dental profession and the proposed process that could see services contracted out, which Irish Dentist reported last month.

Warning that long-term community-based dental provision could not be provided by those seeking to make money from the NHS and then moving on, Mr McGonigle stressed that such provision had to come from qualified personnel and was not a matter of ‘dentists just looking for more money’.

Mr McGonigle went on to highlight that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to increasing the number of dental practices was the prohibitive start-up costs – estimated at more than £100,000. He added that for students who had just qualified after five years or more of study there were no grants or financial handouts available to alleviate financial pressures. Meanwhile, existing NHS practices are simply unable to expand their registers because they are full to capacity.

Calling for imaginative solutions to the problems, Mr McGonigle contended these would not have to cost vast sums of money, and he went on to ask the Council members to allow him to give a presentation at their next meeting in September.

Mr McGonigle gave assurances that special needs and child cases in need of urgent treatment would be seen as priorities, but stressed that every time a person was admitted as an emergency case it put additional pressure on the patient treatment lists.