Sara Hurley, the chief dental officer, has responded to a letter published in The Telegraph.
In the letter, written by Tony Kilcoyne and signed by more than 400 dentists, Dr Kilcoyne compares the dental care provision in England with that of ‘Third World arenas’ and calls on Sara Hurley to ‘be fully open and transparent about existing limitations, if they are serious about making real progress.’
‘I think we all recognise that context is all, and when looking at the overall contribution of the dental profession that is committed to providing dental care in partnership with NHS England, then many of the assertions made in Monday’s Daily Telegraph article are difficult to substantiate,’ Sara Hurley, chief dental officer for England, replied.
‘The reality is the committed majority of dental care professionals provide an extraordinary service and at practice level the evidence confirms that patient satisfaction with quality and care remains high.
‘I am sure that the “negative professional narrative” was not what was intended but the effects created by the comments are not that helpful in giving a balanced view of the public perception about the profession.
‘However, if there is some good to come out of this it is that we have national coverage of the fact that despite the overall improvement in oral health in England, there are still groups of individuals who are difficult to reach with both preventive health messages and information on how they access services.
‘We clearly need to be more innovative, across a variety of activities, if we are to support these individuals in realising opportunities for improving self-care as well as signposting more effective routes into the right care at the right time.
‘On the day that Public Health England has launched Change4life and sugar remains on the health agenda we have raised awareness.
‘Perhaps not all that was intended but it has got the dental profession noticed on a relatively quiet news day.’