Devolution, evolution and revolution? Dentists to debate the issues at LDCs’ conference

The looming crisis in recruiting NHS dentists and the need for a level playing field for all dentists competing for NHS contracts, are among the topical issues that will be debated at this year’s annual conference of Local Dental Committees (LDCs) in Belfast on 7-8 June.

Some of the 200 delegates in attendance will also be calling on the government to commit a portion of the tax raised from sugary drinks to be spent on oral health schemes for children, and to improve funding of community dental services.

There will be a timely discussion on whether devolution improves dental care or takes the ‘N’ out of the NHS. This will include presentations from Michael Donaldson (responsible for commissioning health service dentistry in Northern Ireland) and Ben Squires (with similar responsibility for Greater Manchester). Ben will share his experience of DevoManc and where commissioning dentistry fits in the health and social care framework.

A Question Time debate will explore the benefits of devolved commissioning of dental care, and ask whether, in fact, this creates more barriers to healthcare. The panel will include all the chief dental officers in the UK: Sara Hurley (England), Colette Bridgeman (Wales), Margie Taylor (Scotland) and Simon Reid (Northern Ireland).

Professor Stephen Fayle, consultant in paediatric dentistry (Leeds Dental Institute), will discuss the importance of prevention for everyone, while general dental practitioner Claudia Peace will share her experience as an associate in a prototype practice in Wiltshire.

John Milne, the Care Quality Commission’s senior national dental adviser, will provide an update on developments around the Practitioners Advice and Support Scheme, which is also the subject of several motions.

Joe Hendron, Chair of the 2018 LDCs Annual Conference, said: “Since we’re having our annual conference in Belfast, it seems fitting to look at the impact of devolution on dentistry.

“This is no longer confined to countries, as the government continues to push its traditional responsibilities out to the regions, look at DevoManc.

“Is this a way of taking the ‘national’ out of our health service and blaming the ‘outposts’ if they’re poorly funded by central government, or genuinely the best way of addressing local differences?

“Whatever the answers, I am looking forward to hearing the debates and the first-hand accounts of our expert speakers in dental commissioning.”