Orthodontist receives MBE from Princess Anne

Chris Kettler, specialist orthodontist and past honorary secretary of the British Orthodontic Society was invited to receive his MBE from Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.

Following the investiture, Chris offered his thoughts about the honour and about the experiences which led to this event.

‘I was really proud and delighted to attend the Investiture at Windsor Castle on 3 November 2011, with two of my sons, to be presented with the MBE by Princess Anne. The citation was “for services to orthodontics”. I am also especially proud for our specialty of orthodontics and the BOS. I believe this is a recognition of all we have achieved together in the BOS during the past 35 years.

‘Mostly I have been a secretary of this and that society and committee. I have not made policy but have helped to influence and implement it.  I will not mention a single name of all the very many orthodontists I have worked with; most of them are in the Society’s role of honour.

‘When I entered orthodontics forty five years ago there were three major national orthodontic societies, BSSO, BAO and COG plus the AUTO and COS.  There was no recognition of specialists in orthodontics.

‘In NHS practice, every item of orthodontic treatment required prior approval with submission of study models and the case was not paid for until end of treatment models were sent in and approved. Orthodontists had no right of negotiation with the Government and had to conduct everything through the BDA and the GDSC. The BSSO had lobbied the GDC about “orthodontic auxiliaries” and had been ignored. All this has changed through the efforts of many orthodontists.

‘I am proud that I was involved in helping to implement the changes. Unification of the five national societies was one thing we could do by ourselves but the formation of the BOS was achieved after fifteen years of aspirations and three years of hard negotiation.  I was Secretary to the Unification Working Group and it was great to be involved with the slowly progressing agreements.

‘When I entered dentistry, dental nurses were very limited in what they could do and we were seriously neglecting to use dental nurses effectively.  In orthodontics highly trained specialists spent much of their operative time in simple repetitive clinical procedures, such as impression taking.  Now we have orthodontic nurses at the BOC, the ONG, the Certificate in Orthodontic Nursing and Orthodontic Therapists.

‘Specialist Registration arrived in the UK later than in almost any other countries in the world  The “specialist” practice I started in 1972 was a general practice “Limited to Orthodontics”.  Orthodontists constantly lobbied for Specialist Registration, but we needed the support of the BDA, the GDC, and of Hospital Orthodontists.  I was so pleased, when in November 1998, I could change the header on my practice notepaper to “Specialist in Orthodontics”.

‘When I started in orthodontic practice, the arrangements for providing orthodontics in the GDS were unbelievably ludicrous. A large body of orthodontic assessors at the Dental Estimates Board in Eastbourne were employed to give approval and sanction payment to every orthodontic case, based on an examination of before and after models.

‘Over the years, there was some relaxation of the rules but the fundamental situation remained unchanged.  When the opportunity arose to design a PDS Pilot for orthodontic provision, through the initiative of the Consultant in Dental Pubic Health in Bedfordshire, I could not resist.  Our PDS Pilot was rolled out nationally in 2006.

‘It has many faults, some are due to changes to the original pilot, and some are inevitable.  It is so much better than we had before. Prior to Unification, the BDA, the DH, the GDC and other bodies would pick off the separate Orthodontic Societies one by one. The founding of the BOS in 1994 brought immediate political benefits and other bodies were suddenly keen to talk to us.  It is a fact that the inclusion in our membership of 400 GDPs was very helpful in the political acceptance of the BOS. Ultimately this has led to the BOS being consulted in all orthodontic matters and the BDA, the GDC and the Department of Health regarding the BOS as the authorative voice of both generalist and specialist orthodontists.  The BOS now has a place on the GDPC (old GDSC) and also direct access to the DH.

‘One last area where I was proud to be involved was in Europe where I worked hard to establish the BOS as a worthy member of the EFOSA and FEO. The BOS is now a leading light in orthodontic politics in Europe and the World and has been awarded the World Conference in London in 2015.

‘Has it been hard work? Yes, but it has been immense fun.  I have had great fellowship working with fellow orthodontists towards the same goals.  It has been immensely frustrating at times but wonderfully rewarding when we achieve our aims.  I have met so many people in orthodontics and other areas of dentistry, both in the UK and abroad.  It has been so much better to be involved, and at least to understand why we are making slow progress, than to stay at home, being frustrated by the system and doing nothing about it.

‘I hope my narrative will encourage other members of the BOS to come forward to work for the Society.  As a practitioner, I especially want to encourage fellow practitioners.  Hospital orthodontists have always been much better at serving their specialty. Specialist practitioners now form the largest Group in the Society and should be pulling their weight. We must continue to work to preserve what we have achieved and there is still much to do to improve the provision of orthodontics in our country both for patients and for orthodontists. Don’t wait to be asked. If you know someone talented but reticent, nominate them.

‘I thank everyone in the Society for their fellowship over these many years and I thank all those in the Society who sponsored me for the award. We can all take pride together.’

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