Politicians should underpromise and overdeliver, says John Makin

Politicians should under promise and overdeliver, says John Makin

John Makin analyses the potential impact of the upcoming general election, and suggests what the public will expect from politicians and dental professionals alike.

With the count-down on to polling day in this general election, it has been great to see the main political parties making commitments in their manifestos to improve provision of NHS dentistry.

Anyone who has attended a Dental Defence Union (DDU) talk on minimising the risk of complaints will have heard me repeat the mantra that when it comes to managing patient expectations, it is better to under promise and overdeliver.

The same is true for those setting the future direction of dentistry. We have heard many promises in the election campaign about how many more dental professionals and appointments will be made available to patients and suggestions for how this could be achieved. And under the current government’s dental recovery plan, various initiatives such as provisional registration for overseas dentists and dental care professionals being able to open courses of treatment have been announced.

Whatever the outcome of the election on 4 July, people’s expectations will undoubtedly be high of what NHS dentistry can deliver in the coming months. It is hardworking dental professionals who will be on the frontline of meeting those expectations.

What do dental professionals want politicians to prioritise?

The DDU recently asked members which dento-legal policy areas they wanted the next government to prioritise. Around 96% of respondents said they want political parties to include plans in their manifestos to support the health and wellbeing of the dental workforce. Eight in 10 (80%) of those responding to the DDU’s survey also said they feel negative about the future of the NHS.

One dentist told us: ‘There aren’t enough hours in the day. We are trying to give the best patient care we can, but we have so many patients, it is difficult and stressful.’

Our political leaders need to find a way to improve access to NHS dentistry, but there are no quick solutions. When pulling policy leavers, it’s important to consider the impact on both patients and the dental workforce. We care for our patients but we also need healthcare leaders and the government to care for us and not put us in a vulnerable position due to unintended consequences.

Read more about the other areas of concern dental members want politicians to address on the DDU’s website.

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