I have been reading coverage and watching interviews about the latest book by Steve Hilton. Apparently, he is the favourite political guru of David Cameron and therefore his ideas are ones we might expect to be implemented in the next five years. You might find a perusal of @stevehiltonguru on Twitter to be interesting, his TV appearances suggest he has been coach to “Call me Dave” in the way Chris Barrow has been a polarising national coach to the UK dental profession.
Our profession has massive frustrations with our daily lives and the restrictions which are all around us, reaching out to almost affect our pattern of breathing. Steve Hilton argues that what has happened, as our information society has developed, is that it has become easier and easier for systems which we must follow to be written and then codified. I believe our dental profession has been trapped by this codifying of systems, almost trying to make every dentist work and behave in the same way, with the same paperwork, the same records. The words I am using here could be used for every field in the UK, ask your spouse, your friends, professional colleagues, business people, all are being stifled by the weight of the state's hefty duvet of regulation.
In the 20th century, Hilton argues, due to the way communications worked, only the people in the centre were able to make decisions, and these rippled out, in some cases enforced. Before the Industrial Revolution, decisions were taken locally as the communications of the times meant a distant ruler in the capital city may impose large scale decisions such as war and taxation. The King in the castle could not micro-manage the daily actions of subjects hundreds of miles away, the local lord, or sherrif imposed their version for their area.
Can the philosophy of applying those systems allow us to be trusted again with making our own decisions, our own leadership, rather than being force fed by the nanny state?
Nationally, this broad idea encompasses powerful, executive, city mayors. This concept is being taken forward, we will see this as more and more city mayors take office across the UK. The benefits will be a translation of what may be a well meaning law or regulation emanating from a Whitehall Minister's desk, into what this means in a locality, where a well argued, seemingly sensible, national edict may be counter intuitive to the situation on the ground.
If there are to be more and more local mayors, or decision makers, could this idea be applied to dentistry? Many agree that the whole profession is frustrated daily by the national edicts which do not fit in with how we run things on the ground, in our own practices, or in our own areas?
In oral health provision, the needs of differing areas do vary widely. Truly local decisions will help people on the ground, the providers of healthcare working together with the recipients of this care. How can we move the profession away from political control, away from the politicos who are able to speak publicly and utter soothing platitudes, but when devising and enacting changes, they seem to be regularly and plainly wrong? But our decision makers must be of the people, possibly elected, and definitely not from the present Dental Public Health elite who continue to drive change in their narrow eyed image.
Decision making for the future of our profession needs to be more human, more involving, and not just showered onto dentistry from the top down. This itself will mean different things to different people, but will allow concepts from grass roots to flourish, we have many mechanisms for communication, to set the agenda, and make the changes. The age of imposing change must now be over.
My call now is for our largest trade union, the BDA, to take this forward to this new Government on terms that fit in with their style, their politics, their understanding, in order to make a change to the top down mindset. This is about freedom, modern politics, and a move away from the paternal style of the last century, using modern coimmunications but not only in a single direction.