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Our work: leading to action

At the first Board meeting of the LDC we confirmed our Vision for local dental services:

For NHS dentistry to be integrated with the rest of the health and social care system to enable dentists and dental care professionals to maximise their skills for the benefits of their community.

But what does this mean in practice and how will the LDC turn this vision into action? We also agreed that our approach would be built on three pillars:

  • Advocacy: We will represent the local profession to stakeholders to ensure that the role and value of oral health and dental services is well understood and that that understanding is acted on. Our communication on behalf of the profession will be open, evidence based and for the benefit of oral health.
  • Peer support: We will break down barriers causing isolation to ensure that colleagues have access to support and a network of trusted help in the local area.
  • Diversity: Our profession is a diverse one. We want to break down barriers to engagement and involvement and make sure that all dentists have the opportunity to be involved, learn and develop through their LDC.

We want to see NHS dental services properly integrated with the rest of the health and social care system. We know that the care we provide can materially affect the quality of life of our patients, not just their oral health but their whole health. But, in order to achieve our vision we need to make sure our stakeholders understand this too.

Understanding the value of primary care dental services and the effect it can have on reducing health inequalities and improving health outcomes is the first step.

The second is to ensure our stakeholders understand that if they want us to be able to play our part in their plans effectively then there are local and national systems that need to be changed.

The move to more local accountability and CQC oversight of Integrated Care Boards and Local Authorities means that there is a greater spotlight than ever on our profession. We must use this interest to demonstrate what we can do. We must demonstrate the integral value we provide to patients and how our care affects the whole system’s efficiency. By making the case for dentistry we can build a local alliance of stakeholders making the case for the improvements we need in NHS dental contracting.

Making the case for the value of our profession in meeting local needs is part of our approach. The other part is engaging with the profession itself. Practitioners are struggling to find purpose and to retain motivation for working in a system that seems not to value us. We want to break down barriers causing isolation, to form a real and supportive community for our local practitioners. We aim to have regular online meetings and the occasional face to face event to help create networks of peers. We will keep members regularly informed of all activities via the website and emails, so you can follow what we are doing with our collective voice. We may not always succeed – change may be slow – but we will keep pushing for the improvements we need for our profession. We will be clear and open with you about how we are working.

All members of the LDC will be able to attend meetings and to share experiences. We will bring our engagement with stakeholders to these meetings. Any member who is interested in representing their peers and pursuing projects which resonate with our local community and stakeholders will be welcome to put themselves forward to do just that. As a Board we will provide you with support and guidance, a network of peers in other areas to bounce ideas off and grow together in confidence.

We want the LDC to be the starting point for our future leaders.