A very Happy New Year to you all. 2018 is going to be another momentous year in many ways. We will remember those who fell in The Great War which finally came to an end in November 1918, we will celebrate women being given the vote in the same year. It will be the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King. We will also be reflecting on 70 years of the National Health Service and in particular, how we can influence improvements in the delivery of dental care at LDC Conference.
The agenda for Conference although in its early stages, is taking shape.
The principal theme will be dental contract reform. I have always believed that reform is essential for our patients and for the dentists we represent. We have to get it right or lose the opportunity for another generation. In the 21st century a new contract must have prevention at its core, and it must provide the treatment necessary for our older patients, the heavy metal generation. It must be made accessible to all patients including those who are most vulnerable and do not have a voice. It must be equitable to both the patients and to those delivering the care.
Professor Stephen Fayle, Consultant in Paedodontics, will tell us why the need for prevention is essential for all ages, not just the very young.
The Question Time forum worked really well at last year's Conference and I'm considering holding the same again this year. From feedback, delegates enjoyed the extended participation this format offered to get to the nub of the issues without too many lectures.
There have been efforts made in Northern Ireland to reform their dental contract which has largely remained unchanged since 1990. I understand that they are watching closely what developments are being made in England which could be adapted for use in the Province.
So, contract reform is not just an England/UDA issue. I feel that there are things that we can learn from others to try to get the best outcome.
For example Wales is piloting a form of oral health examination which is intended to provide a risk assessment of the patient's dental needs. This is hoped to provide a basis for contract reform in there.
With the current appetite for devolution of powers to more local areas, such as Greater Manchester, this is as good a time as any to look at the lessons learnt so far from countries where there are devolved governments: Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
I have been fortunate to have been invited to meetings of the NI Dental Practice Committee and Welsh GDPC. While I was promoting the LDC Annual Conference, these visits gave me an insight into the dental concerns in those countries, and although they have specific local problems, it was clear that we share many of the same concerns regardless of where you live in the UK.
There is a formal conference dinner on the evening of the 7 June. I am very pleased that Professor Callum Youngson, Dean of Liverpool Dental School, will be sharing some of his more humourous views of dentistry.
Registration will be opening soon. I would urge you to come along and make your voice heard – I would encourage you to take up your full allocation of places and where possible, bring your younger representatives as a delegate or observer. We all understand the need for parents to bring their children to the dentist at an early age – likewise take any fear or apprehension away from the future leaders of the profession.
Motions submission will be starting soon with a deadline for acceptance of Tuesday 3 April. Visit the LDC website to see how things were done last year – the video record of conference is broken down into watchable chunks of motions and presentations.
Please also see the website for details as to how to nominate a person for the Unsung Hero Award.
If you've never been to Belfast or haven't been for years, you're in for a pleasant surprise. In fact Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway have been recommended by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 regions in the world to visit in 2018.
Some delegates have told me that they, and their partners, plan to spend the weekend in Belfast after the conference is over to enjoy more what the city has to offer. Please check out www.visitbelfast.com.
If you have a Twitter account please follow me at @LDCConference for regular updates.
Local Dental Committees Conference Chair 2018