The British Dental Association (BDA) has set out how it will tackle racial disparities within dentistry as it speaks out in support of Black Lives Matter.
The movement has gained international traction over the last six weeks following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, US, on 25 May.
Now, the BDA says it has put together ‘a major programme of work’ to help address racism within dentistry.
In a new research project, it will engage with dentists from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background. This is to curate the views of those from both its ranks and the wider profession.
Deeds not words
It hopes this will help to identify racism and racial disparities within dentistry and address these with an evidence-based plan.
‘The dental profession is guided by the principle of acting in the best interests of patients, regardless of their background,’ said BDA chair Mick Armstrong.
‘Yet it is clear that we still have a long way to go before everyone in our society is treated equally, and with dignity and respect.
‘And recent events have forced us all to confront the reality of continued anti-black racism. We stand in solidarity with those who have been peacefully demonstrating against anti-black racism. We say, unequivocally, that black lives matter.
‘Deeds not words is our mantra. We are resolved to do what we can to overcome persistent inequalities and discrimination. Whether that is challenging the words and behaviours of colleagues, patients and officials. It could also be reforming and transforming the world in which we all work.’
There is a significant underrepresentation of black dentists, who account for just 1% of the GDC register.
And while the representation of other BAME groups is increasing, there is underrepresentation at every level within the profession’s leadership.
Additionally, research highlights that patients of ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to visit the dentist. The BDA argue for more research into the reasons behind this.
This comes as a Public Health England (PHE) analysis of the impact of COVID-19 has identified disparities relating to ethnicity, helping to reveal health inequalities.
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