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And now to news, where a report from the HSCIC on the mood of the profession made for interesting reading. Their verdict: a large proportion of the profession are certainly motivated, but the amount of dentists describing their morale as high is very much in the minority. So what are to make of this?
Well, it may not be something we didn’t already know, but this latest report certainly reinforces some of these issues. Dentists are hard-working, driven, motivated professionals. Many care greatly about their patients and want to ensure the best results for them.
But the profession is facing a serious issue of morale, and this has been known for quite some time. The Chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee, Mick Armstrong, commented: “It’s hardly surprising that dentists are stressed – just providing good dental care for our patients and managing their increasing expectations within a shrinking budget is challenging. Inevitably job satisfaction will suffer when you also factor in the multiple layers of unnecessary bureaucracy and targets that dentists have to face.
And that is the unfortunate reality as it exists today. These dips in morale aren’t an isolated event, they can have serious consequence.
Commenting in June, Scottish dentist Robert Donald said: “If stress levels rise to the point where it affects the way you live and work, it can have serious consequences, including suicide or an early death due to stress-related illnesses.”
Addressing the Westminster Health Forum, Dr Rupert Hoppenbrouwers, the head of the Dental Defence Union, highlighted the high amounts of stress that dentists face, particularly when hauled before an inquiry: “The truth is there are many and various reasons why patients bring complaints and claims and it has never been easier for them to do so. In this climate of criticism, it should not be overlooked that the overwhelming majority of care delivered in dental surgeries is excellent. The rise in challenges to dental professionals inevitably places serious professional and personal pressure on those who are called to account.”
Many anecdotal accounts about dentists of all ages leaving the profession due to the stresses paint quite a gloomy picture of where the profession is going. Dentists may be motivated but the morale needed to go alongside that is just as important. The oral health challenges that the nation faces make it essential for a motivated, content profession. So is it all doom and gloom? Or should dentists be more positive about where things are going?
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