The Local Dental Committees (LDCs) within the Federation of London LDCs have made a number of recommendations to the Mayor, in response to the Mayor of London’s consultation on his draft Health Inequalities Strategy.
In our response, we make it clear to the Mayor that dentists and their teams can play a key role in the reduction of health inequalities. We have also emphasised the importance of stakeholders engaging with local dentists when formulating oral health, and general health, improvement strategies; and set out the many ways that LDCs in London are driving change.
The Mayor’s draft Strategy emphasises the importance of ensuring that children have the best start in life and that the population generally has the ability to choose a healthy lifestyle. These are two themes that the LDCs in London have focussed on, highlighting the importance of embedding oral health initiatives in early years settings and health plans. The LDCs also urged the Mayor to work with colleagues across government to release funding raised through the levy on sugary drinks for oral health initiatives. To ensure that children’s oral health strategies are coordinated and funded appropriately we have recommended that the Mayor appoint a special children’s oral health adviser.
Supporting the Mayor in his objective of safeguarding and enhancing the mental wellbeing of Londoners the LDCs recommended that the Mayor take every opportunity when engaging with mental health stakeholders to remind them of the importance of oral health. The World Health Organization recognises the vital importance of sound oral health in supporting people to socialise, a key part of addressing issues with isolation, and we have reiterated this to the Mayor. As part of this, the LDCs have called for accessible stop smoking services in every borough to be supported.
In making the general environment better for health the LDCs took the opportunity to urge the Mayor to recommend to every Health and Wellbeing Board that they engage with their LDC and local dentists. We also took the opportunity to raise the issue of patient fees and the problems caused by mixed messaging about the NHS being free at the point of use, as we have done previously. We recommended that the Mayor demand NHS England and the Department of Health work with the British Dental Association on removing this barrier to care.
In addition to patient charges, the LDCs also urged the Mayor to have oversight of the overall funding allocation for primary dental care services in the Capital. This would help ensure that as the population of London grows the funding to deliver their care remains in the system. Echoing a call made by the LDCs in July 2018 to the Department of Health, the response recommends that the Mayor supports all providers of adult social care to partner with a dental or CDs provider. This will enable timely care to a vulnerable population.
As London is a diverse city the LDCs recommended that the Mayor ensures that each borough has a translation service for their local population to use when accessing health care. This will be an improvement on the current ad hoc arrangements currently in place. The LDCs also made it clear that a major omission from the draft strategy was a focus on shisha and smokeless tobacco use. The LDC recommended a Mayor led awareness-raising campaign to help reduce the use of these carcinogenic substances.
Finally, the LDCs recommended that the Mayor should initiate a system of recognition for dentists and their teams who have made a special impact on their community. We feel it is high time that more was made of the success and importance of great oral health.
As well as making recommendations to the Mayor, the LDCs highlighted the work and engagement they are currently pursuing and their commitment to working with stakeholders such as the London Local Dental Network and NHS England (London Region) to ensure that services are able to meet patient demand.
Our summary of recommendations is as follows:
- Children’s oral health plans to be included in every school and early years setting as well as in all action on obesity plans. The Mayor’s Healthy EarlyYears London Awards programme should include an element on oral health.
- Appointment of a children’s oral health adviser to support the Mayor and his team with the oversight and assessing the effectiveness of children’s oral health initiatives.
- The LDCs recommend that funding from the ‘sugar tax’ to be used for oral health promotion.
- To help reduce health inequalities among those with mental health conditions, exacerbated by poor lifestyle choices such as smoking and alcohol misuse, the Mayor should raise the importance of oral health with his mental health stakeholders such as Thrive London.
- Smoking remains prevalent among those with the greatest need. To tackle this, the Mayor must work with partners to ensure that sufficient and easily accessible stop smoking services are available in every borough.
- We call on the Mayor to demand that NHS England and the Department of Health work with the British Dental Association to make NHS patient charges clearer, removing their collection from dental practices and ensuring that those with the greatest need are empowered to access dental care.
- Mayor to encourage all Health and Wellbeing Boards to engage with their Local Dental Committees.
- Mayor’s office to have oversight of a Public Health England London Region led dental needs assessment to ensure that there is sufficient funding for dental services in London
- Mayor to ensure that each borough provides comprehensive translation services for those patients which require it.
- Mayor to support every provider of adult social care services to partner up with a dental practice or CDS to ensure timely and routine access to dental care.
- We recommend a Mayor of London led campaign informing different community groups about the dangers of shisha, smokeless tobacco, betel nut and other carcinogenic products use in a pan-London campaign in conjunction with local authorities.
- The Mayor to initiate a system of recognition for providers and teams who have made significant contributions to their local community in improving oral health.
We will keep you updated with responses to our recommendations. If you would like to contact your LDC about these recommendations please contact us.