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News / January 20, 2010


by Guy Hiscott

Sunday 17 January dawned brightly with none of the recent weather extremes as an amalgam of shell-shocked dentists gathered in Croke Park for the emergency meeting organised by the IDA.

The agenda looked well planned out to assess where we are currently and how we can, both as an association and as individual practices, deal with the future.

A deafening noise greeted me as I entered the conference area. It was more in line with pre-match and belied the apprehension we were all feeling. It was great to meet with colleagues, old and new, all in the same situation.

In his opening address, CEO of the IDA, Fintan Hourihan, noted that the attendance of 450 dentists showed how we as dentists agree the profession is at a crossroads.

He said: ‘The Government has targeted supports which were designed for the most vulnerable patients or for workers who are paying for them week in and week out. The consequences will be huge for dentists and for patients alike as we roll back much of the progress we’ve made in recent years.’

Fintan was followed by our first invited speaker, Sheila Scott, a business consultant for dental practices. She gave a powerful, fast paced delivery originally titled Crisis or Opportunity but changed in transit to Patient loyalty – how to keep patients on board. She gave a wonderful presentation on how to build a loyal, regular, appreciative band of ambassadors (patients that is, not staff!!).

Sheila was followed by Susie Sanderson from the BDA. Susie covered the changes UK dentists in England and Wales have had to make as a result of contract changes in 1990 and 2006. She included personal experiences, as she manages to combine part-time practice with her BDA work.

We broke at one o’clock for lunch overlooking the awesome stadium and pitch. What a great example of what the Irish can achieve when we set our minds to it; encouragement for us, perhaps?

David Mc Caffrey from MedAccount took us through the need to run a strict business with tight control of expenses and especially cash flow where banks are being strict with overdrafts, although thankfully still lending to dentists.

Clare Dowling from IDA headquarters followed with advice on the legal side of introducing pay cuts, shorter hours working and redundancies. She dealt clearly and effectively with a subject none of us wish to have to face.

There followed seven presentations by private firms, ranging from full insurance firms to firms aiding you in setting up payment plans into your office to the Hospital Saturday Fund.
The feeling of the need for caution expressed later in the closed session is one I would echo. Careful investigation is necessary.

The closed session for IDA members allowed us express our appreciation for head office and especially our negotiators for all their thankless work, our anger towards the government, our apprehension towards the future, and occasionally the feeling that this could be a great opportunity to wrest back control of our practices.

I encourage all who didn’t manage to attend to look at the presentations, which can be accessed via the download section of