In an open letter to NHS England, the British Dental Association (BDA) has called for the miscarriage framework to be extended to dental professionals.

The ‘National Pregnancy and Baby Loss People Policy Framework’ is aimed at providing support for the people affected. The policy “includes but is not limited to, up to 10 days paid leave for the mother (or parent who was pregnant), and up to five days paid leave for the partner, in the cases of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, and termination of pregnancy.”

The BDA said it strongly welcomes the framework. However, the policy does not apply to dental professionals.

In the letter, it argues that it is vital dental professionals “are given the same support as other NHS staff through such deeply challenging personal circumstances.”

Sarah Bailey, an associate dentist, shared, “My miscarriage happened when I was around 12 weeks pregnant. I knew I had to go back to work straight away. It was really tough; I remember crying in the toilets at work. Patients knew I was pregnant and were asking me how I was doing. When you have a public-facing job, you have to put your emotions aside and switch on the bubbly persona. But 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’. There is just no time to start to deal with your grief.

“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.”

Lauren Harrhy and Ellie Heidari, co-chairs of the BDA’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, said on its website, “Dentists have told us of the physical and emotional toil caused by lack of support during these circumstances, putting aside grief to keep working or face financial penalties and even more stress. NHS England has a chance to ensure that all dedicated NHS clinicians have the support they need, and we will push for them to do the right thing.”