In recent years perhaps, the LDC Annual Conference, may be seen by some quite an 'English affair'. The LDC Annual Conference should not just be English event, although it seems to have become dominated a little by NHS contractual changes, mainly affecting England and Wales, since the advent of the 2006 contract and the UDA.
Scottish LDCs have their own lively annual conference in Stirling each April, although they often send observers to our annual conference.
Standing Orders of LDC conference make it clear that Welsh LDCs can send delegates and they usually participate in good numbers.
Northern Irish LDCs are also provided for, despite them not having statutory recognition, they are able to send observers also.
General Dental Practice Committee members from all four nations are encouraged to attend in addition to ensure a link between the GDPC and the LDCs.
The hunt for a good location
So, the question of where to hold the 2018 LDC Annual Conference began.
As I practice in Wakefield, a Yorkshire location was suggested, and the conference town of Harrogate, is ever a favourite.
But we wanted to take into account ease of travel for everyone, and the feedback from the last two Annual Conference's has been that having a single venue for the meeting, the dinner and the accommodation was very positive.
We thought Harrogate could be a bit of a trek for some, and we thought the largest hotel there would struggle to host our entire event. Manchester was also suggested, two LDC conferences have been held there (and of course, this is where the British Dental Conference and Exhibition has often been housed), so we thought a change would be good.
Just out of interest, I wondered about Belfast – I thought the Europa Hotel could provide a competitive quote, and we have never held an event there before.
We factored in the likely cost of air travel, and this compares similarly with rail fares to previous venues in England. Belfast is accessible from most of the regional airports with airlines such as Flybe, Easyjet and BA/Aer Lingus from London.
As Belfast was becoming a possible contender, more and more colleagues were approaching me and said that they would love to attend Conference in Northern Ireland.
Why get involved?
Conference is the opportunity for general dental practitioners to question and influence the policies of the General Dental Practice Committee; at the same time, sharing personal views and experiences with colleagues from across the United Kingdom has proven to be very valuable and worthwhile.
As you know, the practice of dentistry is continually coming under more pressure whether it be contractually by NHS commissioning bodies or through the increasing scrutiny and regulation by the CQC/RQIA and GDC.
Many colleagues are feeling the pressure, and levels of stress appear to be rising, particularly for our younger dentists. We need to be proactive as a profession where we can so that we can try to influence positive change.
Do visit the Conference website to view the video of the 2017 Conference which has been edited into easy to watch sections – this gives you a flavour of what to expect for 2018.
The Agenda Committee uses the valuable feedback from previous LDC Conferences to try to improve the future events where possible. Something that stood out for me was the numbers of LDCs who have not attended for some time, and it is important to try to find out why.
Is it because they don't see LDC Conference as relevant? Are unable to find volunteers to represent them? Is getting time off/ travel an issue? Or is it just general apathy? I have written to these LDCs asking them to share their reasons for not attending – if you have a view, please let me know.
I am also attending meetings of the Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee and the Welsh GDPC, as it is my role to raise the profile of LDC conference and to encourage participation.
In these times, more than ever, we need to share experience, look for areas of common interest we can lobby on and improve dentistry, both for us as practitioners and for our patients.
LDC Conference Chair 2018
LDC Conference 2018
Local Dental Committees (LDCs) represent the profession locally. They discuss service configuration and commissioning, NHS management of service providers, practice staffing, workforce planning, dental education and regulations and regulatory changes, all of which have a local impact, often in different ways in different areas.
LDC Conference 2018 is taking place in Belfast from 7-8 June 2018 at the Europa Hotel, Belfast. Please register your interest in attending and we'll alert you when the online booking opens.