Seeing the light in the dark

UK dentistryNigel Jones on finding the real optimism about the future for UK dentistry.

The recent report by Dental Protection, Breaking the burnout cycle, made for a fascinating and worrying, if unsurprising, read.

Unsurprising because it reinforces the findings of other surveys that the dental profession in the UK is on its knees.

In the foreword, Raj Rattan describes the potentially harmful effects burnout can have.

Not just on the individual concerned, but also on those around, including patients.

Particularly sobering were the revelations that more than one in three dentists often or always start the day feeling tired.

And a similar proportion consider leaving the profession for reasons of personal wellbeing.

Such statistics speak volumes about the current morale of the profession.

Yet this is at a time when ‘modern dentistry allows dentists to do more than ever for their patients’.

Dentistry, rather than being a way of life to escape, should be at its most vibrant, exciting and rewarding.

Downward spiral

It’s worth noting there are some people, not many but some, who do see it that way.

I was lucky enough to attend the Christie & Co London Business Outlook event, which was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative evening. 

Apart from hearing the thoughts of the guest speaker, Andrew Neil, on the prospects for the country’s economy in 2020 (solid unspectacular growth, no recession and opportunities for the bold, in case you’re interested), the occasion provided a chance to catch up with various dental practice owners and others with an interest in UK dentistry.

It quickly became apparent that, in among the inevitable concerns about overbearing regulation and increasingly troublesome NHS contracts, there was real optimism about the future for UK dentistry, the chance to capitalise on clinical advances and a public focusing more on health and wellbeing.

Grave concern

The issue of burnout in the dental profession is a matter of grave concern for a whole host of reasons.

A part of this unfolding tragedy is that both newly-qualifying and established clinicians have become so locked in a downward spiral that the opportunities that others can see so clearly will elude them.

Decisive action is needed.