Bill Nichols shares with readers how the charity can help and offers insight into true-life cases.

The aim of the BDA Benevolent Fund is to help dentists, dental students and their families when they face financial hardship, for instance supporting those who do not have the funds to pay for some of the everyday things in life such as utility bills and food, as well as one-time assistance to meet a specific need, and back-to-work funding (annual retention fee, indemnity, CPD, etc). That help is available irrespective of how the problem arose – in the past I’ve seen it happen as a result of problems at work, physical or mental illness, an accident, and other adversities.

A helping hand

Consider, for example, the case of a young female dentist, recently qualified in the UK who started working for a practice that did not meet her needs. Too much was expected of her and not enough support was given. She got complaints from the patients, a referral to the GDC, and was then suspended. Unable to work, she had no income and her debts were spiralling. She developed mental health problems and her relationship with her partner broke down. It was a total mess.

When she approached the Fund she was assessed, found to be eligible for help and was supported with grants for subsistence, as well as for the financial aspects of satisfying the remedial measures requested by the GDC. It took a very long time and there were several setbacks but, eventually, she was restored to the register and was once more able to work.

When her letter came to the office, saying, ‘thank you so much, I no longer need your help’, that was a tremendous achievement for the charity.

In it for the duration

Another interesting case involved a more mature dentist. He had problems with patient complaints, which led to suspension. He also had an existing mental health problem, and it was obvious to us at the time that he was unlikely to be able to go back to dentistry.

The Fund has supported him for the last 10 years and continues to do so. We have seen him through ill health, bereavement and other challenges that have come his way. He receives a subsistence grant, which keeps him housed and fed. That doesn’t mean, however, that he doesn’t lead a full life. He was able to continue with his two principle hobbies and they now provide him with a small income, as well as giving him a reason to keep going, which, in turn, has helped to improve his health.

It is unlikely that his conditions will improve enough to become completely independent but, nonetheless, the Fund’s support allows him to live what is a meaningful life for him.

Make contact in confidence

There are, clearly, many and varied cases because there are a lot of reasons for financial trouble. It’s particularly pleasing for the charity to support someone who’s in desperate need, and then see them, over the years, return to what is, for them, a normal life.

So, if you or someone you know might benefit from the Benevolent Fund’s assistance, don’t hesitate to get in contact. All enquiries are treated in the strictest confidence. Simply email [email protected] or call 020 7486 4994. Alternatively, for further information, visit www.bdabenevolentfund.org.uk.