The LDC Confederation is a membership body for Local Dental Committees. The recent challenges to NHS dentistry faced by both the profession and public highlight the importance of strong, focussed and effective local engagement as well as the importance of that local engagement having a unified voice. The current UDA contract, developed centrally without recourse to local planning and needs has left dentistry in need of significant reform. The driving force for that reform needs to come from the local.
The power of a Local Dental Committee is based on local intelligence and business and professional investment of members. Practices are established in communities and know what those communities need from them. They are invested both financially and emotionally in the wellbeing of their localities. This makes the Local Dental Committee, which brings dental practitioners together, a key voice for the NHS to listen to when it comes to service design and delivery.
The NHS landscape changes with some regularity. This can make engagement difficult and forming new relationships, upskilling stakeholders and advocating for services both repetitive and frustrating. This is why it is so important to have a strong centre. The LDC Confederation provides that strong centre for Local Dental Committees. We keep up to date with how the NHS is changing, how priorities shift and how that relates to oral health and dental services. We provide a fixed point of reference through which an individual LDC can operate.
Our national work is informed by local engagement. By forming a network of proactive, solution focussed and engaged member Local Dental Committees we will bring examples of effective local initiatives to national stakeholders. For too long reform of dental services has been siloed and attempted by top down single model interventions. While a level of consistency is necessary and desirable, local stakeholders need the power and authority to lead on local initiatives. But to make that clear and to work with stakeholders to achieve local powers we need examples of those initiatives and examples of the barriers that Local Dental Committees and their stakeholders face in making their plan a reality. These examples come from local engagement and the Local Dental Committee making itself a trusted friend to stakeholders.
Why is any of this important? Put simply, because the LDC Confederation believes in NHS dental services. The LDC Confederation recognises the life-changing impact that good oral health and access to a local dentist can make to a person. This is why the LDC Confederation’s vision is:
“A sustainable, valued and accessible NHS dental service in England”
By working together with members, taking their views and experiences to national stakeholders this vision can be made a reality. By using real examples demonstrating what NHS dental services can achieve when properly supported, liberated from arbitrary national rules and instead integrated with local delivery plans to reduce health inequalities and improve health outcomes our vision can be made real.