Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s Annual Conference of LDCs in Manchester – it was great to see so many of you there. A full post-event report is in production but in the meantime here’s a little overview.
As Nick Stolls (Chair of the 2016 LDC Conference) says “The importance of LDC Conference is to air the issues that affect many in the profession, and whether delegates voted in favour or against motions, nobody could say that this year’s conference was dull as even the motions that got the thumbs down, generated lively discussions.”
For those not in attendance you missed 28 debates on topics ranging from contract reform, to regulation, and inequities in commissioning. Overall, delegates voted in favour of all the motions raised, except for six which were rejected by Conference, and none were withdrawn.
A motion raised by Birmingham LDC to limit the dental budget to those who receive free care was roundly defeated by conference (87% voted against). Delegates who opposed the motion said a core service would result in core money being invested in NHS dental services, as such a move would result in money being taken out of the dental budget. John Milne from West Yorkshire LDC, argued that it would be divisive, while the current chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee (GDPC), Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, said it would undermine the public’s view of the profession.
Other motions which provoked a strong response from delegates, included a call by Birmingham LDC on the GDPC to stop submitting evidence to the DDRB. Voting for this would be a retrograde step, Henrik argued, because we’d be left with nothing and the Department of Health would impose its decision. We made it very clear through DDRB that pay awards have resulted in a 25% reduction in income. The motion was defeated by conference (73% against).
Delegates also heard presentations from England’s Chief Dental Officer, Sara Hurley, the GDC’s Director of Strategy, Matthew Hill, Tony Grime from Primary Care Support England and the BDA’s GDPC chair, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen.
The CDO anticipates that a reformed contract should start to be rolled out in 2018-19 but warned that it could be delayed until after the next general election. During the next stage of development, the prototype phase, Ms Hurley said the patient pathway would continue to be tested and the clinical and patient indicators in the Dental Quality and Outcomes Framework (DQOF). Ms Hurley said that two blends of remuneration will be tested over the next few years. She also made clear that the majority of remuneration in both blends will be for capitated ongoing and preventive care. Although one of the main issues still to be worked out prior to the roll-out of a reformed contract, was refinement of the ‘activity metrics used’ – ie UDAs, she warned that lessons learned from the pilots was that switching from full activity to full capitation would be too radical a shift. She acknowledged that managing any transition from local to national remuneration values would involve winners and losers. She said prior to the roll out of the contract decisions also had to be made on a patient charges systems that would fit with the new approach.
The CDO also said the missing link in England’s national oral health programme would be supplied by Smile for Life, which she said would act as an umbrella for local or regional initiatives around the country. Smile for Life would co-ordinate delivery of evidence-based messages and activities to influence health choices and enable self-care for life, she said.
In a Q&A session, Matthew Hill said the GDC was working hard to improve its performance and relations with the profession. He highlighted that the minister’s priority was to reduce the number of healthcare regulators and he urged all dentists to take part in a GDC consultation in the autumn on the future of dental regulation.
The Conference Dinner on Thursday evening was an opportunity to honour Ralph Agius (Bedfordshire), Nikki Davey (Hertfordshire) and Stephen Harrison (Gateshead and South Tyneside) with Unsung Hero Awards in recognition of their contribution to the LDC Community.
At the end of the event Nick Stolls handed the reins over to Alisdair McKendrick as chair of 2017 LDC annual conference, whilst Joe Hendron, was elected chair elect for 2017/18.
The new two-day conference format will continue next year when the conference will be held in Birmingham. So save the dates – Thursday 8 and Friday 9 June 2016!
Photos from this year’s Conference and Dinner will be posted online shortly. Copies of presentations are available now: http://www.ldcuk.org/documents/current-year/presentations .