An update from Sara Hurley and Jason Wong

Sound clinical leadership and advice is one of the bedrocks of the NHS. Contract and system reform are important but regardless of the system you have, clinical leadership is essential. This is not just to assist commissioners and operational officials in their decisions, but to develop the profession and to drive improvement in clinical practice for patients.

In dentistry, we have many talented practice owners in general dental practice and clinical directors in the community services. In primary dental care, those roles shouldn’t be the limit of local leadership with the next jump being the national Chief Dental Officer – our secondary care dentists have a number of roles through which to develop, from consultant to clinical director and more.

We are taking an exciting next step with a new Regional Chief Dentist in the Midlands and we are delighted to welcome Adam Morby to the role. This new role is an important step in advancing clinical leadership in the NHS.

Over the last few years, NHS England’s Local Dental Network (LDN) Chairs have provided clinical advice and leadership to your regional teams. We have seen some excellent examples where clinical leaders and commissioners have worked effectively together in developing strategies and transforming services in line with the Long Term Plan. In particular the input of LDN Chairs during the pandemic and the mobilisation of urgent dental care centres was highly valued. LDN Chairs are drawn from primary, secondary and community dental care.

However, it’s not just about creating the posts. We need to grow leadership from the grass roots up, with opportunities open to all GDC registrants and start creating the leadership skills in our young people from when they first join the profession. That’s why initiatives such as the Chief Dental Officer’s Clinical Fellows scheme, the NHS Regional Clinical Fellows scheme and Clinical Entrepreneur Programme are so important.

There is much more to do and some decisions can’t be taken until any new legislative framework is properly settled. Over the coming months and years, we are working to develop a strong team, so our hard working NHS dental teams, the wider health service and most importantly patients are best served whatever the future brings.

We look forward to taking you with us on this exciting journey.

Best wishes,

Sara and Jason

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