A report into racism and discrimination in dentistry has been applauded and labelled a ‘vital’ contribution to the discussion.
Last week, the report – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within Dentistry – was published and highlights the lack of racial diversity in the profession.
For example, findings reveal just 1.7% of dentists and 2.2% of dental care professionals (DCPs) identify as black. By comparison, 51% of dentists and 75% of DCPs identify as white.
Inequalities also impact on the provision of care, the report states. Patients from ‘an ethnic background’ are more likely to have tooth decay or other unmet treatment needs. Similarly, they are more likely to report access troubles within NHS dental care.
The report was put together by the Diversity in Dentistry Action Group (DDAG), a stakeholder group bringing together more than 30 dental organisations.
Nishma Sharma, chair of the DDAG, introduced the report and pushed for an end to racism within dentistry.
She says: ‘The issue of racism, prejudice, bias is an outdated, stagnant corroded bolus, stuck and wedged into the throat of society; choking progression, suffocating innovation, stifling the potential of a fresh representative workforce where there are no glass ceilings. This can no longer be ignored.’
Drive forward change
Raj Rattan is dental director at Dental Protection and a member of the DDAG stakeholder group. He praises the findings of the report and backs its calls for a more inclusive culture.
‘We welcome this vital report. We are pleased it has been supported by a wide range of dental organisations,’ he said.
‘There is a duty on all of us in the dental profession to ensure we play our part in creating a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion.
‘An ongoing commitment is needed if we are to reap the many benefits of cultural competence within the profession and reduce the risk of ethnocentricity. This can affect the patient experience and may also have a detrimental effect on treatment outcomes.
‘We know that inclusivity lies at the heart of progress. At Dental Protection we are committed to taking active steps in this area.’
As a result, it has set up a diversity and inclusion forum. It aims to drive forward change and reflect on its own diversity and inclusion.
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