BAPD: fighting the good fight


Simon Thackeray discusses the critical work being done by the British Association of Private Dentistry (BAPD) to represent independent practices.

We’re sometimes asked by members: ‘What is the British Association of Private Dentistry (BAPD) doing now?’

The BAPD was formed out of a need for representation of the private dental sector during the pandemic, and quickly became a voice that was heard by both the profession and the establishment. 

But it was never the intention of the BAPD to be a ‘one issue’ organisation. While urgency at the time defined its initial direction, it was always clear that the organisation was long-term. 

The BAPD is still one of the supporting organisations of the Covid-19 Dental Alliance, which seeks to be present at the upcoming COVID-19 Inquiry. 

Once everyone was ‘happily’ back at work, the BAPD started concentrating on issues no longer solely related to the pandemic. 

Establishing priorities 

It was always the intention of the founders of the BAPD to consider the bigger picture of private dentistry. Particularly how an agenda espousing quality dentistry could be adopted. 

Another priority was the need to challenge and question our regulators. The intent was to become a stakeholder in the conversations that involved dentistry. We accepted that we would need to restrict our position on NHS dentistry to how it affects private dentistry. Were were therefore not involved in NHS contract discussions. 

(However, it is our responsibility to know how what’s happening in the NHS might affect the larger dental market.) 

So, what has been happening in the BAPD? 

Making progress 

We have had several meetings with the GDC where our opinions have been aired without holding back. Since one of our original long term goals was to establish a route of communication with the GDC, we are pleased this has happened so early in our existence. 

While much of what is discussed has to remain confidential if the BAPD is to continue to be invited, our position will always be to robustly question regulators and put across the view of our members. 

We recently pointed out that the entire UDA system is a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed wholesale.

While our remit is not to get involved with the NHS per se, we made it clear that if the legislative duty of the GDC is to protect the public, then failure to criticise such a flawed system could also be seen as a failure of the GDC’s remit. 

Given the political difficulties, it’s unlikely that the GDC will ever adopt a position on the UDA. But it is now something that we have firmly placed on its radar and will press further in the future. 

Guidance and challenge

The same is true of our involvement with the CQC. Again, we have been at multiple meetings and observing how the new forms of inspection are likely to develop. 

Effectively influencing organisations like this is challenging. Their remit is set out in legislation, so has a lack of flexibility by its very nature. But without the input of all branches of dentistry – especially the growing private sector – subtle details can easily be missed when new methods of inspection are enforced. 

We have attended all the major dental exhibitions and shows, securing our own lecture theatres. These have concentrated on the political, legal, and quality side of dentistry rather than clinical talks. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel: there are many organisations able to provide clinical lectures. But, there is often a lack of information regarding topics such as the types of indemnity, how to actually convert a practice to private, and what quality dentistry actually means. 

While we might not be as loud a voice in public as we may have been during the pandemic, our voice is still being heard – with a depth and maturity that belies the age of the association.  

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