In my last blog, I noted a developing Critical Mass for change in how we address infant caries and its consequences. And barely a month later, the steam pressure has been increased once again.
The Chief Dental Officer Dr Sarah Hurley, is starting to make public inroads into her role, and recently delivered the 2016 Pendlebury Lecture. It was in stark contrast to the one delivered in 2014, demonstrating a wide understanding of the playing field that is dental health.
Critical Mass 2
It comes at the end of a week in which the state of children’s teeth once again was publicly pilloried, on the back of the General Anaesthetic numbers.
While it remains a problem in England, just look at Scotland. After many decades when Scotland has been spiritual home of the UKs dental problems, it suddenly produces numbers through its Child Smile initiative that suggests significant inroads are being made to improve the health of children’s teeth and prevent dental caries [and thereby reduce the costs and morbidity of unrestricted dental breakdown]. It is not really rocket science, they have just been investing in infant dental health.
So we in England [and Wales and Northern Ireland to a similar extent, but out with the CDO[NHSE]’s remit] have a problem.
We know the target population for any changes must now be parents and infants in equal measure. There seems to be ample evidence that parking the dental professionals in discrete buildings, called Dental Surgeries, is simply not working, and it is evidence that Dr Hurley seeks.
We know that the medical stakeholders are now on board, as obesity and diabetes rear their heads with all the long term cost implications. Indeed it is the medical drive for a sugar tax to discourage the dietary shortcomings that is also driving the publicity that emerged in the Daily Telegraph over the weekend of the 26th February, and was subsequently widely discussed on broadcast and printed media.
Follow the money
So increasingly the priority is being defined. But the thorny issue will arise of funding.
Which Departments will pay? How will we [the public] pay for the inevitable targeted measures that are due to follow, as day follows night? A sugar tax undoubtedly could easily raise the funds but the political will in the chaos pre-Referendum is clearly not there.
There is a serious danger in the current fiscal period of restraint that the HM Treasury will insist on a cost neutral option. Maybe not, but we must for now assume that.
Could it be that the GDP Budget is being eyeballed [at £3.4Bn] as the low hanging fruit of funding that could or perhaps should be used to address the issue of infant dental health?
The Chief Dental Officer is clearly leading dental health to a better place – but who will pay for this Piper’s plans?
The role must soon change it seems to that of Chief Decision Officer.
Interesting times, but the sooner we address the issue of Dental Health for the young child, the sooner we can restore some pride to our profession.
As a GDP you would do well to plan for big changes. Not sure what but for sure very significant.
Have great Easter, assuming the snow has eased back!
GDPUK CDOs response https://www.gdpuk.com/news/latest-news/2152-strong-response-to-child-ga-figures
GDPUK Scan of other media [Dr Tony Kilcoyne] https://www.gdpuk.com/forum/gdpuk-forum/telegraph-third-world-dentistry-crisis-in-engand-21379?start=130#p239340
· Since 2011, all elements have been delivered in all Health Board areas throughout Scotland.
· "As a result of our efforts, dental health in Scotland is improving, particularly in deprived communities. In the Primary 7 age group dental health has never been better and on a Scotland level the target of 60 per cent of this age group having no obvious decay has been met. This is a fantastic success story."
Summary of 2016 Pendlebury lecture http://www.fgdp.org.uk/content/news/synopsis-of-the-2016-malcolm-pendlebury-memorial-l.ashx