BDA Seeking Miscarriage Leave For NHS GDPs

BDA Seeking Miscarriage Leave For NHS GDPs

The British Dental Association (’BDA’) has written a polite, but firm request to NHS England CEO Amanda Pritchard seeking to secure for GDPs the same rights to paid, compassionate leave as the NHS is to offer its directly employed workers.

’Health Business’ reported in March that NHS England had issued new guidance to local hospitals on offering NHS staff who suffer a miscarriage up to ten days additional paid leave.Those who experience a miscarriage in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy would be offered up to 10 days paid leave and their partners up to 5. Those who experience a loss over six months of pregnancy would remain eligible for paid maternity leave.

The National Pregnancy and Baby Loss policy framework also asks NHS trusts to give staff paid time off to attend appointments including for medical examinations, scans and tests, as well as mental health-related interventions.

As self employed contractors, dentists providing NHS services enjoy NHS pension rights on their NHS earnings but enjoy few, if any, additional benefits.

The BDA believes it is ’vital’ that dentists are offered financial support at one of life’s most ’deeply challenging’ junctures. 

’Our members deserve better when facing the heartbreak of losing a child. Dentists have told us of the physical and emotional toil caused by lack of support during these circumstances, having to put aside their grief to keep working, or face financial penalties and even more stress’ a BDA statement said.

In its open letter to Amanda Pritchard, copied to Health Secretary Victoria Atkins and Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health & Social Care) Andrea Leadsom, the BDA relays the experience of former Associate Dentist Sarah Bailey. Sarah miscarried at 12 weeks but for financial reasons had to continue working.

"Physically, you aren’t in a good place and mentally, your hormones are all over the place, so you think, ‘I can’t afford to be ill" Sarah said. "There is just no time to start to deal with your grief."

And in a damning critique of NHS conditions Ms Bailey continued "You are treated like a machine, you have to keep turning over, and hit your targets. You feel an obligation to the practice, to your patients, and to yourself. The pressure of it is immense, but I just couldn’t afford not to be at work. It pushed me into thinking, hang on a minute, this is not a family-friendly environment. It underlined to me that high street NHS dentistry is not a place where I could build a career.”   

Recruitment difficulties in the NHS dental sector are legion and in addition to supporting its workers, family friendly policies are seen by many as key to enticing and keeping workers.   According to Health Business, a trial of paid leave for NHS staff following a miscarriage took place at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust following which a  staff survey found that staff were ’twice as likely to stay with their employer as a result of the policy’.

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