There have been some turbulent times in the world of NHS dentistry during the previous pandemic affected years and, looking forward, there are more challenges on the horizon.
Difficulty in finding and retaining staff, delivering on UDA targets and low staff morale have all had an impact on the profession. The coming structural changes to the NHS will also have an impact and may also provide an opportunity.
As an LDC we recognise the effect on the profession and the future of NHS dental services and it is our vision to empower local dentists to provide the care their patients require with a supportive local network and NHS contract.
Indeed, it is our mission to provide a transparent environment for dentists to provide NHS dental services by building effective local relationships.
To this end in Sutton, we have engaged with Healthwatch to highlight some of the reasons why patients may struggle to find an NHS dentist locally.
They have been sympathetic to our plight and have helped us connect with the incoming people (at the Integrated Care Board) responsible for commissioning NHS dental services in the borough and across South West London.
This has provided an opportunity to make the case for NHS dentistry locally for the first time since 2006. There is a long way to go but by the LDC engaging with the relevant stakeholders, we are at least able to be part of the conversation.
We have also highlighted to the ICB most local practices are struggling to meet their UDA targets and explained the potential impact of financial clawbacks will have to local practices and their ability to deliver future NHS dentistry.
Further engagement with our colleagues in the wider medical community in the Sutton area to highlight the issues faced in providing NHS dental services has also been on the agenda with the LDC representing dentistry at Primary Care meetings and Transformation service meetings also.
This has been extremely beneficial as most of our medical colleagues are unaware of how NHS dentistry works or the unique challenges faced by many of our colleagues. This has led to further engagement and collaboration with our medical colleagues.
The LDC will continue to work hard on behalf of local dentists and endeavour to communicate effectively also. We would be delighted and actively encourage local dentists to help us with this and become part of the LDC.