LDC Conference in Spotlight as Election Approaches

LDC Conference in Spotlight as Election Approaches

At last June’s annual Local Dental Committee Conference in Harrogate the forthcoming meeting in Brighton looked set to be the last before an election. What no one can have expected until very recently was that it would fall in the middle of the election campaign.

Writing her welcome to delegates at the start of May, Conference Chair Agi Tarnowski, wrote: “Given that it is an election year, Dentistry is in the media a great deal and is an important doorstep issue for politicians and the public alike. It is likely that there will be more scrutiny and interest in what we say and the way we represent our profession.”

Agi kindly took some time from the preparations for Conference to talk to GDPUK about this year’s meeting, and her hopes about where it might lead. At the time the election had not yet been called. She recognised that it was a bold ambition to halt let alone reverse the decline of NHS dentistry but was keen to focus on the priorities of reform, support for the profession, engagement, and equitable quality of care.

There will be discussion of “what does good look like” a question regularly posed by the CDO, Jason Wong, who was scheduled to speak to Conference on this topic. Agi observed that there needs to be a recognition that while ‘good’ may look different to government, the profession and patients, it would be instructive to find those areas where there is agreement. However the purdah rules of an election campaign have resulted in the CDO withdrawing. 

Remaining speakers include:

Shawn Charlwood, Chair, GDPC whose presentation is entitled, ‘The current reality from the profession’s perspective.’

John Milne MBE, Past President, BDA, who has experience of both NHS England and the Department of Health, will offer his opinion on, “What have we learnt from contract reform?”

Steve Brine MP, in what is likely to be his swansong, will talk about, “Perspectives from the outgoing chair of Health and Social Care Committee.”

All four nations will be represented and whilst their NHS dental systems differ, all remain unhappy, despite changes supposed to improve matters.

Day two will see 34 motions tabled by individual LDC’s debated, and voted upon.  As ever they are a mix of the controversial, those that may be signs of the professions direction of travel, and even some that might be put into a ‘be careful what you wish for’ category.

Some of the more eye catching motions include:

Northamptonshire LDC propose that: “This conference urges non-cooperation with the Home Office on unscientific tests to establish the age of migrant children in partnership with other health professionals.”

Kent LDC proposing: “We call on negotiators to continue to raise the issue of a lack of digital integration with NHS Dentistry.”

From Liverpool LDC: “If funding per course of treatment is not increased, conference calls on government for a more defined set of items of treatment.”

One motion that would have expected little support a few years ago comes from North Yorkshire LDC: “If government are unwilling to reform the dental contract, conference calls that they recognise they must protect access to the most vulnerable.”

West Sussex LDC, may have the ultimate ‘why has nobody thought of this before’ motion with, “We call for the establishment of a single central point of access to all guidelines applicable to those who practise in primary care, which can refresh and send out updates when reviewed or published.”

Closing our conversation Agi came back to the question that she had asked earlier about the fate of NHS dentistry: “Is it too late? I hope not.”


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