Sustainability – how can the dental sector contribute

Professor Paul Batchelor, Dental Group Chair at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, explores the issue of sustainability.

While sustainability has entered the lexicon of everyday language, its precise meaning and the key issues surrounding it can appear vague. Without this understanding of meaning, trying to address issues becomes almost impossible. This article attempts to overcome the lack of clarity by providing a definition of sustainability and how the dental sector can potentially contribute to what is becoming one of the most critical issues of our time.

What is meant by sustainability?

In broad terms, sustainability refers to the actions taken to ensure that the activities of the current generation in meeting their needs have no, or minimal, impact on the environment. The key document influencing current policy on sustainability was published by the Brundtland Commission titled Our Common Future. The report recognised three pillars to sustainability: the environment, the economy and society. For the environmental pillar, the underlying philosophy was underpinned by a need to reduce the current human consumption of natural resources to a level at which they could be replenished. The economic pillar referred to the ability of communities to maintain their independence, not least to secure sources of livelihood. The third pillar, social sustainability, meant access to resources to keep their community and society healthy and secure.

The United Nations, as part of its role in sustainability, established a knowledge hub to provide guidance on sustainable development issues, one of which centres on health. Although high level, the material presented covers a wide range of activities highlighting how individuals and agencies can help and engage in the challenges. Indeed, FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) has published a issued a statement on sustainability in the dental sector.

How can the dental system contribute?

Dental care delivery is provided in the vast majority, through a series of small businesses. However, the actual dental ecosystem is far wider. The day-to-day running of a dental practice requires energy, materials and transport, to name but three items. Each of these businesses can contribute through initiatives that help create a sustainable environment in a logical process similar to those found in a business plan. The first step is to understand the impact that the business is having: how much waste is the business creating, issues such as energy usage within a practice, the use of materials and their packaging. A good example of this is the work by Duane et al. (2017).

Following on from understanding the issues, opportunities for addressing the problems need to be identified and while no two dental practices are ever the same, potential solutions would have common themes. For example, are there opportunities for using (more) sustainable materials? How might energy usage be both reduced or more reliant on renewable sources? Are there ways to explore how patients use services and do opportunities for health promotion programmes exist at differing sites as opposed to one-to-one interventions?

The dental professions can contribute to sustainability both within their professional roles, but also as individuals. Sustainability is not simply about the environmental aspects; it also involves the economic and societal aspects. A number of these lie outside of the control of the profession but government can make contributions, perhaps not least with appropriate contract reform. To tackle these and other issues, including how COVID-19 has impacted and what lessons are being learnt, the college ran a webinar in February. For those with an interest, the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare also runs a programme on some of
the key issues and how it relates to dental care.

Summary

Sustainability has grown in importance with the recognition of the negative impact that uncontrolled economic growth is having on the planet, the negative consequences of which would be felt not just by present generations but those of the future.

All societies have now recognised the importance of managing the environment to help address the negative consequences of unchecked growth, but also how developments in the economy and society can also contribute. Provision of health care, including oral health care, is a fundamental right and government needs to work with the profession to ensure that care arrangements are developed in a manner which is coterminous with sustainable goals.

Each individual dental care worker can contribute to helping achieve the sustainability goals, both through their professional roles and as individuals on a day-to-day basis. While such contributions may appear to be small or even insignificant, together they will make a major contribution to a better world, not just for the present, but also the future.

References

See https://cgdent.uk/2022/02/24/sustainability-what-is-it-and-how-can-the-dental-sector-contribute/

US dental group establishes logistics centre in Ireland

American dental group Young Innovations has established a new logistics centre in Ireland. The Dungarvan site will become a hub for international trade and the European market.

“The excellent infrastructure allows us to expand the product range and deliver faster, which are ideal conditions for optimal support of our customers,” said Frank Whyte, Vice President and Managing Director of Young International, at the opening ceremony.

The Group’s Microbrush brand has been present locally for 25 years. The branch was initially used as a factory and later as a warehouse. Since 2014, the premises and the portfolio have been steadily expanded and other brands have been added, like Young Dental, American Eagle Instruments, Pro-Matrix, Pro-Tip, Crystal Tips, Zooby and Denticator.

The continuous growth required the expansion of capacity. The warehouse was enlarged and all buildings completely renovated. A reception area, new offices, a conference centre and a canteen were added to the site

Young Innovations’ extensive portfolio can now be fully mapped and the diverse requirements for storing the high-quality goods are also easily met. Modern technology and software make inventory transparent and speed up delivery to clinics and practices at home and abroad.

Frank Whyte thanked the energetic team as well as the previous General Manager, Mary O’Keeffe, who had been with Microbrush since 1998 and has now retired. Cormac Johnston was introduced as the new General Manager for Ireland. The senior professional brings to the position many years of experience in quality and process management at international companies in the healthcare and biotech industries.

Dentists pass no confidence vote in Donnelly as one in six wait three months for appointment

DENTISTS HAVE PASSED a vote of no confidence in Health Minister Stephen Donnelly as one in six people are now waiting over three months for an appointment.

A survey from the Irish Dental Association also shows that more than half of patients are being forced to wait longer than three months for specialist care for their teeth, such as orthodontic and oral surgery.

It comes as dentists gather in Kilkenny this weekend for their annual conference.

Other findings include that more than half of the 363 dentists surveyed have tried to hire a dentist in the past 12 months with almost 60% of those unable to find a suitable candidate to fill the role.

IDA President Eamon Croke said frustrations came to the fore at a pre-conference AGM where dentists voted no confidence in Donnelly.

“Our membership is beyond frustrated at the endless broken promises and false dawns by the Minister and his Department,” Croke said.

“The recent vote of no confidence in the Minister by dentists shows how broken their trust is in a system and service that has no capacity or seen any meaningful commitment to reform.”

Major concern has been expressed at how the Dental Treatment Service Scheme (DTSS) which allows free services for adults over 16 who have a medical card.

According to the survey, 80% of dentists who currently hold a DTSS contract say they are no longer able to take on or see new medical card patients – 93% of dentists say that they would not sign up to the medical card contract in its current form.

“The fact that an unprecedented 93% of dentists say that they would not sign up to the medical card contract in its current form even with the promise of a new scheme is indicative of a model which is not fit for purpose and directly impacts on the most vulnerable in our society,” Croke said.

Without action from politicians, patients will “continue to shoulder the burden of a system crumbling under decades of inaction and neglect”, Croke added.

“The Minister himself said this week that the state has had a ‘blind spot’ when it comes to dentistry and oral health.

“Our question to the Minister and his officials today is what it will take to open their eyes to the scale and urgency of the crisis that they choose to ignore so that dental health is finally recognised as an integral part of general health.”

 

‘Unacceptable’: Dentists hit out at lack of public service care for children amid staffing crisis

THE IRISH DENTAL Association has hit back at the Government for a strategy the organisation believes could see the responsibility of child dental care shift from the public health service to private practices.

It comes as the sector continues to hemorrhage staff, with two-third of job vacancies unfilled.

HSE figures show that the number of public-only dentists has dropped by almost one quarter over the past 15 years, down from 330 in 2006 to 254 in 2022.

The Government allocated an additional €4.75 million in funding to support the development of an oral healthcare strategy for children up to the age of seven under Budget 2023.

With 75% of its members in private practice saying that they would find it difficult to provide treatment to this cohort, the organization expressed concerned that political responsibility for children’s oral health could fall on overstretched private practices.

It said that a lack of a proper public dental service model could lead to vulnerable children missing out on early dental intervention

In a statement today, the organisation’s president, Dr Caroline Robins, said that outsourcing the care of children to the private sector was “not the answer”.

“HSE figures show that half of the children who were due to be seen by a dentist under the school screening process in 2022 never received any form of dental check-up.

“This was purely down to a lack of staff in the public dental service,” she said.

“We know that specialist care is required when treating children and we believe that this should happen in a fully-staffed public service which ensures that all children, regardless of socioeconomic status, receive early intervention”.

According to Dr Robins, the retention and recruitment crisis in the sector is “largely arising from policy decisions which have placed a very low priority on properly staffing the service”.

She believes the situation “will only become a more acute issue if not urgently addressed.”

In its workforce plan for 2023, the IDA has outlined a series of recommendations on how to address staff shortages.

Proposed measures include significant investment and expansion of the country’s two dental schools at UCC and TCD, the reintroduction of mentoring schemes for recent graduates and changes to rules surrounding work permits.

“We are ready to sit down with the Government to discuss and develop the best pathway forward for everyone,” Dr Robins said.

 

IDA President Welcomes Announcement Of Extra College Places For Student Dentists

President of the Irish Dental Association, Dr Eamon Croke on the announcement of extra college places for student dentists:

 

“We are cautiously optimistic for what today’s announcement means for Irish school leavers wishing to practice dentistry here in Ireland and, most importantly, for patients and people who have been struggling to access dental services and treatments right across the country.

 

“We welcome Minister Harris and his Department’s intervention and the work that has been happening with the HEA and our academic institutes. While it is not the only factor, the decades of under investment in our dental schools has absolutely contributed to the lack of dental graduates coming through the system each year, the results of which we are now seeing and feeling in the overall staffing and resourcing crisis facing dentists and dental patients.

 

“We now need to ensure that this plan gets the necessary investment by Government as part of budgetary considerations so that today doesn’t become another finger in the dam of a much bigger disaster.”

Irish Dental Association Statement Re: RTÉ Primetime Report

Statement from the President of the Irish Dental Association, Dr Eamon Croke:

 

“We are alarmed at the revelations contained in this evening’s RTÉ Prime Time Investigates report. We are urgently calling on the Government to immediately move to amend outdated legislation which is leaving patients open to risk and harm.

 

“The Irish Dental Association has consistently called for the Dentist’s Act 1985 to be updated and modernised to allow for the mandatory licensing and inspection of dental practices. As it stands, the Dental Council does not have the relevant powers to conduct investigations, carry out inspections or issue sanctions.

 

“At the request of the Department of Health, our members engaged in a consultation process of legislation governing the practice of dentistry – this was back in 2013. We are still awaiting any meaningful progress.

 

“The Government has pursued updates to legislation as required by other health professions. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for dentistry and, once again, shows what little regard the Department of Health gives to dental care and oral health policy.

 

“In light of tonight’s RTÉ Prime Time Investigates report, the Irish Dental Association reiterates the need for urgency in legislating for a new dentist’s act without further procrastination.”

US dental group establishes logistics centre in Ireland

American dental group Young Innovations has established a new logistics centre in Ireland. The Dungarvan site will become a hub for international trade and the European market.

 

“The excellent infrastructure allows us to expand the product range and deliver faster, which are ideal conditions for optimal support of our customers,” said Frank Whyte, Vice President and Managing Director of Young International, at the opening ceremony.

 

The Group’s Microbrush brand has been present locally for 25 years. The branch was initially used as a factory and later as a warehouse. Since 2014, the premises and the portfolio have been steadily expanded and other brands have been added, like Young Dental, American Eagle Instruments, Pro-Matrix, Pro-Tip, Crystal Tips, Zooby and Denticator.

 

The continuous growth required the expansion of capacity. The warehouse was enlarged and all buildings completely renovated. A reception area, new offices, a conference centre and a canteen were added to the site

 

Young Innovations’ extensive portfolio can now be fully mapped and the diverse requirements for storing the high-quality goods are also easily met. Modern technology and software make inventory transparent and speed up delivery to clinics and practices at home and abroad.

 

Frank Whyte thanked the energetic team as well as the previous General Manager, Mary O’Keeffe, who had been with Microbrush since 1998 and has now retired. Cormac Johnston was introduced as the new General Manager for Ireland. The senior professional brings to the position many years of experience in quality and process management at international companies in the healthcare and biotech industries.

 

We use cookies in order to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies.
Accept
Reject