At the first meeting of the South East London LDC we were joined by Sam Hepplewhite, Director of Partnerships and Prevention South East London Integrated Care Board (ICB). The ICB took commissioning responsibility for dental services in April 2023 and so it was great to have representation from the ICB at our first meeting.
While it was clear that the new arrangements will take time to bed down and for the ICB to get a full understanding of what they have taken on, great ambition was shared. While the existing dental commissioning team will move to be hosted by the North East London ICB, this is for employment purposes only and does not mean the NEL ICB will be in charge of dental services. It is great news that the experience and knowledge of the current team is to be maintained and utilised by the ICBs. A new governance structure bringing together all five ICBs in London has been created. This Oversight Group will feed information back into the ICB. At the moment the main concern has been to ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruption.
The financial allocation is on an ICB basis, not pooled, though it is possible that shared plans will be developed for some services. It was great to hear that the ICB was excited about the potential of dental services to improve local health, and that they were keen to ensure that financial decisions were taken as close to the point of delivery as possible. This suggests some great opportunities for the future, particularly for children and young people’s oral health..
While there will be no immediate changes, it is clear that in the SEL ICB there is ambition to drive improvements to dental services. While they cannot change the contract, they can try different ways of working and there was a clear statement to reduce clawback through innovative models.
Sam shared the priorities of the South East London ICB which included more holistic care, more responsive care, and more local care. They will be addressing health inequalities, and dentistry will have a major role to play.
The main concern raised by LDC members at the meeting was about workforce and it was great to hear that the ICB was aware of the workforce issues and even proposed a pan-London workforce review to assess what can be done.