- Published: Thursday, 25 May 2023 15:23
- Written by Peter Ingle
- Hits: 1830
After much speculation, it has been confirmed that the Chief Dental Officer of England, Sara Hurley, will leave her post at the end of June.
The announcement to the profession came via the latest NHS Dentistry and Oral Health Bulletin. While this may be news to dental teams, the CDO says that she had informed NHS National Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis, last year, that this would be her last year in the post.
Readers of the Bulletin will be left in no doubt that the CDO departs with the confidence that she leaves behind a job well done. The CDO says that, “When I started, I said it was time to ‘put the mouth back in the body’ – and together we have achieved a great deal to do just that.” Then there is the claim that, “we have a renewed dental system reform programme that is already making the much-needed changes our profession has long called for.”
There is a link to the NHS main website which carries a feature about the CDOs departure. Given the concerns expressed about the CDO’s other roles, including a variety of directorships including Community Interest Companies and the eccentrically funded University of Suffolk project, it is revealing that it begins: “Sara Hurley, the Chief Dental Officer for England is standing down after eight years in the job to focus on her new roles as a Non-Executive Director at Surrey Heartlands ICB and as an independent director at the University of Suffolk.”
The NHS feature continues with a series of testimonials that would grace a Linkedin page. There are a dozen comments from individuals representing various organisations singing the CDO’s praise. They include the GDC and CQC. Notably absent are the BDA, and there are very few if any figures or organisations included with strong links to grass roots dentistry.
The CDO’s email says that “Professor Stephen Powis will update you shortly on the arrangements for recruiting the next Chief Dental Officer England.” This is curious. The CDO has said that Professor Powis was informed of her intentions last year. Despite that, and that she had told him that this would be her “last year,” today’s announcement comes with far less notice than most principals would expect from an associate. Had the whole succession been planned smoothly one might have expected the new CDO to be announced now, rather than waiting to hear about the recruitment arrangements, or she might have provided a longer period until her departure. Perhaps events have not proceeded quite as anticipated. It may be that this is not the last story GDPUK will publish about this CDO.
A period of uncertainty will either cause further delays to the governments “plans for plans” on service reform, or demonstrate the redundancy of the current CDO role.
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