Sir, it is with trepidation that I am writing this letter. I am a full-time NHS dentist, an associate in a busy practice, an essential member of the BDA, and as a precautionary measure I have a policy with Dentists' Provident. Over a year ago in December 2015 our daughter was diagnosed with a germ cell tumour that was suffocating her pituitary gland. Her treatment included chemotherapy, a six-hour brain operation to remove the residue of the tumour and radiotherapy. As you can imagine not only did this put immense emotional pressure on us but also physically I had to attend meetings and hospital appointments. This would obviously affect the fulfilment of UDA targets. I phoned the BDA where an advisor told me that since I am only an essential member I am not really entitled to advice. Nevertheless, due to the circumstances the advisor agreed to talk to me on compassionate grounds. However, he told me that only if I were to claim that I was incapacitated would I be able to ask for help. I phoned the NHS and asked for advice. They told me that they weren't my employer since I was only a performer so they didn't have any legal or ethical obligations towards me. I would have to discuss UDA targets with the practice owner and maybe organise a locum. Then I phoned Dentists' Provident and they said that since it wasn't me who was ill they wouldn't help. I felt that there was a lack in our professional organisations regarding help in such circumstances. Eventually the lacking UDAs were clawed back but at least my daughter has had her all clear. I sincerely hope that if any other colleague were to find themselves in this situation that they find better help.

Simon Elliott, Executive director of Dentists' Provident, responds to Dr Glickman: I was very sad to read about the incredibly difficult time you and your family have been through over the last year but I am pleased to hear that your daughter has now had the all clear.

While we can't comment on your individual call here, our head of claims will be contacting you shortly to discuss this more fully. However, I can say that our primary motives are not sales or profits but, as a mutual membership organisation, to always try to do the best by our members in their times of need. Every day I see my colleagues make decisions based on principles and decency rather than simply 'the terms and conditions of membership'.

When contacted by a member we always try to get a deeper understanding of the situation they are in and encourage them to give us as much information as possible so that we can consider each case in full and on its individual merit.

Editor-in-Chief's note: I am pleased to read that Dr Glickman's daughter has received the all clear and trust that family life is returning to normal. The BDA will always take personal circumstances into consideration in circumstances such as this and, as their Journal, we are grateful to Dr Glickman for giving us the opportunity to publish his letter for the information, help and guidance of BDA members, readers and the wider dental community.

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