The National Oral Health Policy and the Irish Dental Association
The Department of Health released its new National Oral Health Policy a few weeks ago. Smileagusslainte is the hashtag they're using. There was an announcement, a public appearance from the Minister of Health, Simon Harris, some tweeting and then everyone went back to whatever they were doing beforehand. I made a few comments directed at the Department of Health and none of them were answered. If you go through the coverage on twitter, the social media often used for news and reportage there is very little obvious threading on it.
I know it's not a hot topic, but it does or it will actually involve practically all of the population in some way or other, if it actually comes into action (though that remains to be seen as governments come and go). The funny thing is, there's a 150+ page document and a 44 page "summary" and after going through them, I'm still none the wiser as to what the government has in mind or how they'll bring it about. Orthodontics is involved in it in some areas. I've been president of the Orthodontic Society of Ireland for a couple of the last few years, and I was on our committee for a few years before that - around the same time I was on the council for the Irish Dental Association. I think the strange thing here is the lack of engagement with the people that will actually deliver the oral health that this policy is intending to achieve. When they were putting it together, I don't remember anyone asking to meet us, sending us a letter about it, calling us up for a chat on the phone...
Now that it's released, we haven't heard much from them either.
So this weekend past, the Irish Dental Association held an event to try to explain to dentists the ramifications of this policy and how it might affect dentists. I'm still waiting to hear from the Department for a reply to the comments I had on the policy, and I think the profession is still waiting for some specific information from the Department of Health on how it is meant to be implemented. Until then, we don't seem to have been told any more about it than our patients, so I'm glad the Irish Dental Association is taking the initiative to inform its members about it.
Meanwhile, I'm still here if Simon Harris wants to talk...