This blog will follow the ups and downs of the General Election campaign of May 2015, as dentist Pramod Subbaraman stands for Parliament, hoping to be elected for the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh South
This week marks the beginning of the election period. Parliament has been dissolved, there are no longer any sitting MPs and the most unpredictable and arguably the most interesting election begins! I have had a busy month leading up to this.
There were two Liberal Democrat conferences ( one Federal and one Scottish ). I had the pleasure of meeting with Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesperson at the federal conference and I informed him of the various concerns of the profession, especially those to do with the GDC.
Obviously, it was too late for anything specific from our discussions to get into a manifesto for the election, but I remain hopeful that Liberal Democrat MPs in the next parliament will be more amenable to our concerns especially to do with proposals for a new NHS contract for dentistry in England.
In addition, I also met with Jim Hume the Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson and informed him of the issues faced here in Scotland. Unsurprisingly, the GDC figured prominently in that chat too! One thing is for sure and that is " The era of single party government has come to an end ". Whatever the combination of parties in the next government and whatever their arrangement ( coalition or confidence and supply ) it surely will not be a government with the agenda of just one party.
There will have to be discussions about policies and no single person or single group of persons can have undue influence on any policy decision. I also spoke at the Scottish Conference where I gave the EMLD (Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats) address.
In this speech, I stressed the importance of diversity. We see it in the dental workforce and industry where there are more women and minorities than ever before, why is parliament lagging behind so badly? And diversity isn't just about ethnic minorities, it is also about the representation of women, sexual minorities, the disabled, in fact anyone who isn't a pale male!
Parliament does need people from non political backgrounds in it and we all lose when there is insufficient diversity. The most successful businesses are those that can represent the diversity of their target populations in their work forces and on their boards. Parliament should be ahead on that count! Not far behind as it is now!
I had a hustings on the 26th of March which I attended on behalf of the Edinburgh North Lib Dem candidate. The hustings was conducted by the left leaning Common Weal. It was a very interesting first experience and I will report on the various hustings' that I attend over the coming weeks. This week, my nomination papers will be filed and I will be working on producing a second campaign leaflet as well as an election address. Interesting times ahead! I now hope to be able to contribute to this blog weekly and then maybe daily in the last few days leading to polling day and afterwards until the formation of a new government with an analysis of what I see on the ground.
Next week, my plan is to discuss the various manifestos.
Ever since my selection as a Parliamentary candidate, I have been in touch with Tony (Jacobs) about this blog with my thoughts and experiences of the general election 2015, from the viewpoint of a practising dentist.
We have been looking back at my time with GDPUK and there is a fair bit to share!
I was first admitted to the e-group on 10th September 2000. That was a month before I sat my finals.
I originally joined to follow how dentistry was practised in the UK. To follow advances in the field, to interact with fellow dentists in what was thother part of the world for me.
I was mainly an observer back then, not much interaction until 2004 when Prof Raman Bedi visited Bangalore during his 2004 FDI India tour. He announced that he would hold a one time only sitting of the part 1 of the then IQE in India. That was an initiative to help solve the problem of a shortage of NHS dentists at that time in England.
I sat the exam and waited for the promised clinical dental attachment which never came! Then I posted on GDPUK with queries about how things were for left handed dentists. I got some replies and a conversation began with Paul Thompson (Norwich) over the next few months in 2005 I got my clinical attachment and arrived in the UK on 5th August 2005, a few weeks after the London bombs! I was having nightmares about the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting and as Paul will tell you, I did not wear a rucksack or even run to catch a bus for a few years!
I was to sit part B of the IQE on 8th August 2005, something I was totally unprepared for! It was then that Paul appealed to GDPUK members in London to help me with a few things. Victoria Holden from Chertsey responded, she opened her surgery on a Sunday and showed me what I wanted to learn! Vicki I will always be grateful for that day, thank you.
As expected, I failed that sitting! I had more trials and tribulations until I finally managed to pass the ORE a few years later. During that time I worked as a dental receptionist and dental nurse with Paul who remained steadfast in his support and then even worked as an SHO in Maxillofacial Surgery in Birmingham 2009-2010. I was again in observer mode with the GDPUK during those years.
I returned to clinical dentistry in 2010 and have since worked in Middlesbrough, Hull and Stirling and now have experience of UDA and fee per item NHS systems and now of some private dentistry too.
I have a lot to thank GDPUK for, for kindling my interest in the UK and in UK dentistry. For the networking which laid the foundations of a great professional and personal friendship with Paul Thompson. For people like Victoria Holden and Tony Kilcoyne ( good advice and an encyclopaedia of dental political knowledge ) . For Tony Jacobs who allowed me, a final year non UK dental student to join in 2000 and who has now invited me to record this blog. For all the members who have informed and entertained me over the years, and for a lot more in the future.