BSPD launches ‘Rights from the Start’ initiative


  Posted by: Dental Design      9th June 2023

Launching today (9 June 2023), BSPD’s new ‘Rights from the Start’ initiative will shine a spotlight on children and young people’s rights. Mrs Jenny Harris, President of BSPD and Consultant in Community Paediatric Dentistry, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is launching BSPD’s children’s rights initiative in the UK to drive better awareness amongst dental professionals when seeing paediatric patients. At the centre of this initiative, is a fact sheet outlining these rights according to The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Carrying endorsements from the British Dental Association (BDA) and the NSPCC, the fact sheet, which can also be used as a poster, was co-developed with support from the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) Child Friendly Cities & Communities programme.

The aim is to bring clarity for professional colleagues in dentistry, and beyond – to anyone who works with children and young people – so that they can feel confident in their understanding of the rights that they must uphold for the youngest in our society.

Printed versions of the fact sheet are being issued with the British Dental Journal (BDJ) in June with the suggestion that dental practices may want to use them to prompt discussion amongst their teams or to put them up as posters on a staff noticeboard. Jenny has written an opinion article to accompany the fact sheet which will also appear in the BDJ issue out on 9 June 2023.  This article in the journal explores the implications for clinical teams.

Additional support for BSPD’s Rights from the Start initiative

In addition to the BDA, NSPCC and UNICEF UK, BSPD is delighted to have further support of the Rights from the Start messaging from the following organisations:

  1. British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN)
  2. British Association of Dental Therapists (BADT)
  3. British Orthodontic Society (BOS)
  4. British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT)
  5. British Society for Oral & Dental Research (BSODR)
  6. British Society of Special Care Dentistry (BSSCD)
  7. Global Child Dental Fund (GCDF)
  8. Society of British Dental Nurses (SBDN)

Mrs Jenny Harris, President of BSPD and Consultant in Community Paediatric Dentistry, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who conceived the Rights from the Start initiative said, “It’s crucial that inequalities in children’s oral health at a population level are tackled and tackled fast. Change is needed soon. Children desperately need far-reaching solutions to uphold their right to the best dental care possible. We are, as yet, a long way off that.

“But there are also things we can do in our day-to-day clinical practice to respect and uphold individual children’s rights. That’s what I have focused on in my article in the British Dental Journal – things like providing information children can understand, listening to their views and supporting them to make decisions.”

Dr Fiona Gilchrist, Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Dentistry at The University of Sheffield, who chaired the organising committee for BSPD’s 2022 children’s rights-themed conference in Sheffield said, “We have a duty to advocate for children to have equitable access to dental services – including specialist care if required and treatment under general anaesthesia when that is the best option. It is a child’s right, but at the moment it is little more than a postcode lottery whether these things are available locally.”

Eddie Crouch, Chair, BDA said, “A healthy start in life is a fundamental right for all young people, and oral health is too often the missing piece. From the outset, the British Dental Association (BDA) have supported BSPD’s important work on Rights from the Start.  This profession has a key role to play, to come together to support and uphold these rights.”

Sarah Handley, Child Friendly Cities & Communities Programme Manager, UNICEF UK, said, “Oral and dental care professionals play a vital role in helping to uphold human rights for all children. Taking a child rights-based approach to oral and dental health means ensuring not only that children and young people have equitable access to good quality healthcare, but that they are able to actively participate in decisions that affect them, and that their best interests are at heart.  We welcome this initiative from BSPD and are very pleased to support it.”

Mrs Catherine Simmons, practice owner at Moreton Road Dental Practice, Oxford said, “I am always looking out for interesting topics for our weekly team meetings. We’ve never looked specifically at children’s rights before, so the poster and article will be ideal to start a discussion and think through what it means for our patients.”

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