The event welcomed CSLDC delegates, guests, Scottish Dental Practice Committee (SDPC) members, Scottish Dental Fund board members and BDA staff. The conference was held in Stirling, on 21 April, chaired by Lindsay Milton, and saw over 75 delegates attend in person.
Motions on the crisis facing NHS dentistry in Scotland took centre stage, with the revised Determination 1 of the Statement of Dental Remuneration (SDR), increasing costs, and calls for reform of several allowances within the SDR, all being debated.
The urgent need for payment reform and sustainable funding for NHS dentistry in Scotland underpinned the debates on many of the 21 motions. Recruitment and retention of dentists along with dental team members was an area of concern. Recruitment and retention of dental nurse and auxiliary staff, workforce planning, and training, also featured.
Delegates passed motions calling for the delivery of NHS dentistry to be reformed, following the pandemic, in a way that delivers for patients and the profession. Given the real terms cuts over the past decade, there was significant debate about the sustainability of NHS dentistry and the current remuneration package.
The first in a series of presentations was from Gerard Boyle, Senior Dental Advisor, Practitioner Services, giving an update on the service’s operational role. Next, SDPC chair, David McColl provided an update on the activity of SDPC over the last year. Focusing on the work undertaken to address the motions which were passed at last years conference and then accepted as SDPC policy.
He reflected on the direction of travel with the amendments to the Determination 1 and what will be needed next from the Scottish Government. Explaining that SDPC will continue to engage constructively with the Scottish Government to seek out solutions and to negotiate the best possible outcome for the profession and our patients, as the stakes could not be higher.
The views of the profession must be heard and that is why the BDA asked dentists to take part in a survey, to establish what the ongoing uncertainty around payment reform means. Over 500 dentists in Scotland completed the survey in February, leading to extensive press and parliamentary engagement on NHS dental payment reform. David also explained that the SNP leadership election had seen key reform deadlines move and stressed that a sustainable model must be in place by October.
The newly appointed Minister of Public Health and Women’s Health, Jenni Minto provided an update on behalf of the Scottish Government, followed by a questions and answers session. The Minister said she is keen to engage with the dental sector and hear voices from the front line, acknowledging that the past 3 years have been difficult and thanking the profession for its hard work, resilience and dedication.
The commitment to have payment reform in place by 1 November was reiterated, along with a promise to showcase the fees as soon as possible. Her ambition to ensure equitable national access to NHS dentistry was put forward. She concluded by saying that she was looking forward to working with the dental sector to advance NHS dentistry in Scotland.
Next the conference heard an address by Sandesh Gulhane, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, followed by a questions and answers session. He outlined his vision for a holistic NHS dental service, where prevention was not only at the heart of the service but was also incentivised, allowing dentists to step away from the treadmill associated with item of service.
During the conference, Hazel Hannigan from Lanarkshire LDC was voted as chair-elect for the CSLDC. Jacqui Frederick and John Davidson were honoured with 2023 CSLDC Lifetime Achievement Awards. Lindsay Milton, Chair of Conference concluded his term in office by passing the position to Christina Ferry.