CDO to Quit Role This Spring

CDO to Quit Role This Spring

The Chief Dental Officer for England, Sara Hurley, is leaving her role this spring. Information, from multiple sources, suggests that her departure may be as soon as this April. 

In many ways, the CDOs performance has been that of someone who “left the building” a while ago. To those readers asking what exactly the CDO has been doing, we can reveal that Sara Hurley has, in fact, been very active. Unfortunately for national dental care, this activity appears to be more related to the CDOs career development, than the fight for NHS dentistry’s survival.

Recently, some GDPUK readers were amused to receive a personal invitation to the BDIA Showcase exhibition, from England’s all-but invisible CDO. These appearances at the BDIA event may be one of the last opportunities that dental teams get to hear from, and possibly question, the CDO.

While recipients are simply addressed by their first name, the CDO has signed off with a six line epistle which lists her full title, nominal role as CDO, qualifications, and honorary professorships. Before any accusations of self-aggrandisement are made, it appears that the CDO has actually been a little reticent. A recent twitter posting by the Guildford and Waverley Health and Care Alliance was accompanied by a photograph of the CDO speaking at an event of theirs at Guildford Cathedral. Billed as a “Whole system planning event,” dental teams might wonder about its relevance to their struggles to deliver NHS dental care. Except Sara Hurley was not speaking there as CDO. She happens to be the Chair of the Guildford and Waverley Health and Care Alliance.

According to Sam Shah, GDP and CMO Numan, who is a registered specialist in dental public health, this is not the CDO’s only other job. The still in post CDO is a non-executive director at Surrey Integrated Care Board. She also has time available to be a company director at the University of Suffolk’s dental care community interest company. Moving to the West of England, the CDO is a director of the Peninsula dental community interest company. These are paid roles, and typically would each bring in about £20,000 a year.

The role of CDO is a full time post and it is possible that there are other paid jobs to add to those above. The lack of leadership experienced both during the pandemic, where NHS England seemed to follow other nations in taking action or providing guidance, as well as the underwhelming contract reforms, do not seem to have affected the CDO’s employment prospects in the health care administration business. There must be questions about how much time the CDO has actually been devoting to her “day job.” All of this must be set against the backdrop of the access crisis, complete with DIY dentistry, dental deserts, and an NHS dental service that is draining away day by day.

It seems that even after leaving NHS England, Sara Hurley will continue to have fruitful employment in dental care. While her time as CDO will have served her well, there may be questions about how dental teams and patients have fared during her tenure.


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