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Harsh realities from the frontline

Inequities in the current contract, how it fails patients and dentists alike, were among the key themes of the motions raised at the Local Dental Committee Conference.

The outgoing chair of the Government’s Health Select Committee, Conservative MP Steve Brine, said he was in no doubt from the submissions to the committee’s inquiry into NHS dentistry, that contract reform and scrapping the Units of Dental Activity (UDA) system was essential to rescue the service. He added that the time for talking needs to stop, and the next government needs to press on with change, although he conceded this would be challenging, and would rely on support from Downing Street and the Treasury. 

Chair of our General Dental Practice Committee (GDPC), Shawn Charlwood, told delegates that “this is the first General Election where votes would be won or lost over how politicians plan to solve the NHS access crisis.” He spoke about the achievements of GDPC to date, and whilst the UDA system exists, he will continue to repeatedly make the case to the Department of Health that a minimum payment of £35 per UDA is “the level of ambition that will start to make a difference.” 

Reflecting on the 2024 conference, outgoing chair, Agi Tarnowski, reported on the five key areas identified for improvement: Structural reform and funding, workforce support and engagement, equity, sustainability, and quality of care.

The 230 delegates in attendance heard first-hand accounts of the current realities facing dentistry, young dentists’ concerns, patients’ needs, and preventive care. Sustainability and the future of dentistry were also addressed. Of the 34 motions raised, only three were rejected. 

Incoming Conference Chair Charlie Daniels announced that the theme for the 2025 LDC conference will be mental resilience in recognition of the challenges dentists face, and strategies to mitigate these. 

Sarah Canavan was elected as Chair for Conference 2026, Mark Haigh and Shiv Pabary as Honorary Auditors, Agi Tarnowski as BDA GDPC Representative, and Shawn Charlwood as Conference Agenda Committee Representative.

Local Dental Committees (LDCs)

LDCs were set up in 1948, at the inception of the NHS. LDCs can support all dentists in their locality across a range of issues and consist of local NHS General Dental Practitioners and usually secondary care and community representatives as well.