Stop publishing letters in The Telegraph

Publishing letters in The Telegraph is not the way to make change happen, Seb Evans says

Publishing letters in The Telegraph is not the way to make change happen, Seb Evans says

A different method is needed if Tony Kilcoyne is going to make any change, Seb Evans says.

One of the stories that has been trending recently on Twitter is the letter from Tony Kilcoyne published in The Telegraph.

In the letter Tony, along with 400 dentists, argue NHS dentistry is unfit for purpose, as well as comparing UK NHS dentistry to that of ‘third world’ dentistry.

Although I understand Tony to be fighting for a worthy cause, to improve NHS dentistry, I can’t help but refer to Michael Watson‘s comment in the last issue of Dentistry magazine.

He finishes by quoting a comment from The Telegraph website saying: ‘If this is the third year you’ve all written to The Telegraph without obtaining the desired result, I would think you’d have learnt to give up and stop flogging a dead horse.’

I have to agree; writing a letter, getting more than 400 signatures and publishing it in The Telegraph once a year does seem to grab the media’s attention for a week or two.

But ‘today’s news is tomorrow’s fish-n-chip paper’, despite the story and some dentists getting some air time on national TV, I don’t think his campaign will go any further this year than it has done in previous years and will be forgotten about next week.

A different method is needed I think if Tony wants to seriously make any change.

The people who can make change happen work at NHS England and Julian English, editor of Dentistry magazine, has spoken to the chief dental officer to get the names of the people to contact.

Make sure you grab the February issue of Dentistry to read the interview and find out the names of the people to contact.

Industrial action

Elsewhere junior doctors and dentists have taken industrial action this week over pay and working conditions.

The British Medical Association (BMA) along with the British Dental Association (BDA) are locked in bitter discussions with the NHS over the new contract and backing down now is not an option.

I say lets get behind these dentists, whether you agree with their actions or not, and lets campaign to get better working conditions for our NHS staff in the long run.

Then we can discuss whether taking industrial action is the right path to tread afterwards.


  1. 1

    Dear Seb Evans and team,

    Thank you for highlighting the 400+ signed Telegraph letter is well intentioned and for the greater good ultimately.

    Since this recent Telegraph letter went into print and it’s WIDE media exposure upon national Radio and TV, nearly 2000 more children have been admitted to hospital beds in England, for the removal of perhaps another 10,000+ rotten teeth in that short time !!!!!!!!!

    Now just reflect upon those numbers for a moment please, then maybe EVERYONE can understand our sense of urgency and wishing to bring this accelerating tragedy to the attention of the public AND Ministers, so clearly.

    It’s time for those centrally to now act, immediately.

    No more excuses, no more spin, no more denials – first step is action in the National Media outside of dentistry and direct to the public for prevention awareness. This can then support/synergise with local initiatives etc.

    Maybe your title should have been, PLEASE make it unnecessary for even more dental professionals to have to whistleblow publicly in the Daily Telegraph, again.

    Third time lucky for all those vulnerable children and adults too, perhaps ???

    Yours hopefully,

    Tony Kilcoyne.

  2. 2

    I agree. The only thing which will make any difference is for significant numbers of dentists to abandon NHS work. This won’t happen whilst a/ Some practice owners are milking a fortune from the current system, despite it being shoddy and clearly not providing decent treatment, and b/ The economic crisis in other parts of the E.U means that any UK graduate can be replaced by a dentist from another E.U country, who will be so desperate for work they will accept derisory pay rates. Frankly, dentistry is a ‘career’ I would make sure no younger member of my family thought of entering nowadays. A sad state of affairs indeed! All the best for 2016, one and all!

  3. 3

    Dear Seb Evans,
    so let me get this right: after THREE letters and over 400 signatories this time, NOW “Julian English, editor of Dentistry magazine, has spoken to the chief dental officer to get the names of the people to contact….who can make change happen.”
    Lucky Tony wrote the letter or Julian would not have known there was a problem so he could get names. We wait with bated breath to see the monumental change Julian will bring with his names.

    You say: “He finishes by quoting a comment from The Telegraph website saying: ‘If this is the third year you’ve all written to The Telegraph without obtaining the desired result, I would think you’d have learnt to give up and stop flogging a dead horse.”

    I say: What if Albert Cochrane had given up pushing for Evidence-based medicine after three letters? What if J K Rowling had given up after letters to three publishers (it was twelve attempts before a company accept her first manuscript? What if Henry Ford had given up after his first company, the Detroit Automobile Company, went bankrupt? Or, indeed, his second one, the Cadillac Automobile Company went bankrupt too? His third attempt, the Ford Motor Company, did pretty well I think you will agree.

    For someone to try, try and try again like Tony has, we should support him, or take action ourselves to highlight a problem like Tony has.

    Shame on you for your lack of support but shame on you too for your denigrating comments.

    A Frustrated reader

    • 4

      Dear frustrated reader,

      Let me be clear…I am also frustrated over the lack of information, time scales and so on regarding this reform to the dental contract.

      Sebastian and I make the point that letters to the Telegraph containing sensationalist information do not help and there may be more effective ways of grabbing the attention of government officials and indeed the public.

      If someone is ignoring me, I do not believe a slap in the face is the best way to get their attention.

      I’m a big fan of Tony Kilcoyne, but the content of the letter I consider to be too heavy-handed. For that opinion I feel no shame.

      But on a positive note, Tony is campaigning and now is the right time to be campaigning for sure. And is 100% behind contract reform and a reform that functions better for the profession and the public.

      Pragmatic Julian

      • 5

        Hi Julian – do you really think that the dentists behave ethically today and have done so in the past?
        I have practised for 33 yrs under various systems and I feel strongly that the state of things today has been brought about by the dentists themselves and not the various governments who have merely been trying to get some value for the money spent.
        When I qualified in 1983 dentists already said that it wasn’t possible to practise prevention on the NHS but it was!
        Most of the NHS dentists I know are like benefit scroungers -they cheat the system and feel righteous about it and they always have!
        I’ve listened to dentists blaming everyone but themselves for 33 years -an unedifying spectacle.

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