For most people Christmas is a time of celebration, family gatherings and gift sharing, but for some dentists this particular time of year is dreaded.
The BDA Benevolent Fund works hard throughout the festive season to help dentists and their families who have hit a financial crisis, whether that’s through illness, bereavement or another event that has turned their world upside down.
Christmas has become an exceptionally hard time of year for Sarah* since the sale of her practice in 2009 resulted in an unfair suspension. Her earnings dropped from £100,000 to £18,000 when she was forced to look for work elsewhere.
She said: 'After being in a practice for 20 years and classing some of the people I treated not just as patients, but as members of the family, I was obviously very upset. My reputation was completely decimated overnight.'
After losing her job, Sarah was left struggling to pay for her three children’s education fees and the mortgage on the house. She managed to find work as a locum in a hospital, but as the savings from the sale of her practice and her credit cards were used to pay for the family’s living expenses, she realised she couldn’t continue on such a downward spiral. Sarah turned to the Fund for help in 2010. While this offered Sarah and her family a lifeline, Christmas still remains a particularly difficult time of year for her family.
She added: 'Christmas has been particularly hard for us. The children used to get a nice big Christmas present, but instead we had to sell things to be able to afford essentials. Last Christmas was a real struggle. Nobody comes round for Christmas anymore, because we can’t afford to host it. It’s my eldest son’s 21st birthday this year as well, so we will probably put whatever we can afford into his birthday, rather than into Christmas. It’s going to be a hard one.'
Sarah admits that without the Fund’s help she may well have had their house repossessed, resulting in her family being left without a home. She added: 'I’m doing all I can at the moment to pay back the Fund and if I was to win the lottery tomorrow they would get a great big lump sum. I’m really thankful for all the help they have given me.'
Please will you make a special gift this Christmas to help vulnerable dentists get through the festive period?
To make a donation go to www.bdabenevolentfund.org.uk or send a cheque to: BDA Benevolent Fund’, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS.
For more information about the BDA Benevolent Fund
*This dentist’s name has been changed to protect their identity