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From words to action; from action to outcome

Following the reforms to our old LDCs, which resulted in the new South West London LDC, we want to ensure that the purpose of the LDC is clear. We felt that explaining our vision for dentistry in the area and saying how we wanted to see it achieved would provide clarity to members. With clarity we hope that members will feel empowered to engage meaningfully in important local advocacy work for our profession.

Our vision:

For local dentists to be empowered to provide the care their patients require with a supportive local network and NHS contract.

Our mission:

To provide an open and transparent environment for dentists to be able to provide the best care for their patients under their NHS contract by building effective local relationships and a supportive network of peers.

In practice this means simply that we want dentists to be freed to do what dentists do best: provide care to their patients.

In reality we know that colleagues are facing increasing challenges and barriers which make this increasingly difficult.

The LDC plans to work with local stakeholders to remove as many local barriers as possible, to work with them to create an environment which supports the provision of NHS dental care. We will need volunteers from the LDC membership to lead on building and maintaining these relationships and driving the changes we need.

Since 2006 we have been waiting for national direction to deliver the changes to a dental contract recognised almost immediately by all involved as inappropriate. Now, with a renewed interest in the local level, driven by devolving more power back to the local level, we have the opportunity to break down the isolationist barriers that have plagued NHS dentistry and, using local initiatives, work with local stakeholders to demonstrate what investment in NHS dentistry could mean for population health.

By working with local stakeholders such as the Integrated Care Board, Local Care Partnership, Local Authority, Local Healthwatch and Local Voluntary Services, as well as our traditional dental stakeholders we can make the case for local dental services. Our stakeholders want to see a reduction in health inequalities and improvement in health outcomes. We know that a well funded and integrated NHS dental service will be able to help them meet these goals effectively and efficiently.

We believe that by demonstrating this fact to these stakeholders that they will work with us to remove local barriers, such as improving pathways and utilising flexible commissioning, and work with us as a profession to argue for greater and national system reform.

The LDC has already started building these relationships and enjoys a close relationship with the local Healthwatch in south west London, has regular meetings with the Integrated Care Board and is increasing our engagement at the borough level. Our involvement and engagement in their local plans will help demonstrate the value of dentistry and add their voice to ours in arguing for improvements. Engaging with the Integrated Care Board is key to delivering improvements. They hold the contracts and the budget for dentistry. They are accountable for the service. They are keen to ensure that their population has access to dental care and that inequalities are reduced. We have made it clear to them the challenges we and they face in this, not least the threat posed by clawback from contract under delivery. We are confident that they want to work with us to address this burning issue and make sure that dentists are freed up to use their funding effectively, in year. This will improve care, stabilise practice funding and reduce pressure on dentists.

On a more immediate and personal level we know that dental practices are suffering with recruitment difficulties and that many members of the profession no longer feel that the NHS provides a viable and fulfilling career. We will be working with our partner LDCs and the LDC Confederation to consider how we can address these issues.

The new LDC offers a new opportunity to engage. A new opportunity to achieve change and new opportunity to help shape our profession for a future we want to see.