Torrid year for dental association

It has been a torrid year for the British Dental Association (BDA), following the introduction of a controversial membership structure.

The annual general meeting (AGM), with its report by chief executive, Peter Ward, was an opportunity to be open with members, tell them what went wrong and reassure them that the BDA is now on the right track.

Members were told that the deficit reduction was now ahead of forecast and the BDA should break even next year.

That was the good news, but there was no apology for the new membership system that had plunged the association into crisis.

Extensive market research had been done by an outside company before the new system was introduced.

But the choices members made when asked to choose a membership level were different from the survey results.

So it must have been the members fault, not the market research company, nor the BDA senior management, who took the decision.

Competitors and critics were accused of undermining the BDA’s position.

As one who criticised many of the association’s actions over the past year, I assume Peter Ward meant the likes of me.

But he also said that communication was key, both with staff and the wider membership.

But the BDA has a culture of secrecy.

Is communication with members best done through a speech to under 100 of them at the AGM?

And, Peter, if you want to explain your position to the dental press, call them together, have a press conference and answer questions.

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