The everyday challenges of the dental practice and the practical ways to overcome them came under the spotlight at the 15th Premier Symposium – the conference jointly organised by Dental Protection and Schülke.
More than 300 dental professionals attended the event that remains one of the largest risk management conferences for dental professionals in the UK.
It offered delegates insight into – and lively debate on – many hot topics currently facing dental teams, including:
- The ‘timebomb’ of peri-implantitis
- The impact of modern-day lifestyles and treatments on patients’ wellbeing and the difficulty in related diagnosis
- The changing landscape of infection control in relation to HIV and Aids
- Communication in the 21st-century, and how new technology can create gaps between the three generations of baby boomers, generation X and generation Y
- The ethical and legal issues in the marketing and delivery of elective aesthetic dentistry, with the focus on the principle, ‘above all, do no harm’.
Iain Chapple, Richard Porter, David Croser, Paul Redmond and Martin Kelleher formed the lineup of internationally renowned speakers who delivered an enlightening – and sometimes witty – day of presentations at the Shaw Theatre, Pullman St Pancras in London on 28 November 2015.
Prestigious awards ceremony
The highlight of the symposium was the announcement of two prestigious awards – Dental Student of the Year and Dental Practice of the Year; the former rewarding the student who showed an all-encompassing professional approach to dental care and beyond, and the latter acknowledging an overall excellence in team risk management.
Rajveer Athwal, a final-year student studying at the University of Liverpool, scooped the title of Dental Student of the Year, plus the prize of £1,500, for demonstrating a ‘globally and culturally aware’ approach to dentistry. His entry impressed the judges with the winning combination of prioritising the welfare of patients whilst demonstrating a commitment to giving something back to the community.
Included in his outstanding submission was an impressive dedication to not only ethical dental care at home and abroad, but also to causes beyond the practice of dentistry. Among Rajveer’s commitment to his ethos of ‘giving back’ was the expansive and varied demonstration of his widening participation work at the university.
Outside of the university environment, Rajveer’s other extracurricular activities are equally impressive, having volunteered at a dental unit at Malawi orphanage during his elective, researching an oral cancer project, supported by a bursary by the Pathological Society and undertaking a dental hypnotherapy course.
Judging panel ‘wowed’
The award of Dental Practice of the Year went to Sandy Dentalcare in Bedfordshire, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, under the same stewardship that founded it. The practice ‘wowed’ the judging panel with its team approach to risk management, incorporating excellent communication skills, a system of regular patient feedback and record keeping audits, team training and reflective learning, and an ethos of placing patients’ best interests at the heart of its dental care.
In its submission, it revealed a low turnover of staff with some team members clocking up more than two decades with the practice. Both managers and practice principal, Dr Uday Patel, are ‘always a phone call away’ and the team showed a commitment to regular training, fully aware of the potential dento-legal minefield that the duo topics of consent and confidentiality can crate.
They said: ‘We continue to learn and have robust policies and procedures for anything that affects dental practices – this includes being in our 11th year as BDA Good Practice members and an awareness of CQC regulatory requirements.’
With a demonstrable understanding that the most effective methods of risk managing complaints is good communication – ‘face to face, on the phone or in correspondence with any member of the team patients encounter’ – staff are able to apply the practice’s rigorous policies.
The practice’s personnel manager and patient care adviser, Monika Cross, explained: ‘It is a practice where we aim to be welcoming, friendly, understanding, professional and kind. Our patients see this and know we want to help them, our team feel valued and appreciated and they are very loyal to us.’
Rajveer and the Sandy Dentalcare team accepted their prizes from Andrew Collier, chair of the judging panel and senior dento-legal consultant at Dental Protection, who reviewed the entries with dento-legal advisers Susie Sanderson and Charlotte Boyd.
Commenting on the winners, Mr Collier said: ‘Rajveer showed a wide and valuable combination of professional and personal qualities. These included demonstrating a strong commitment to assisting both current dental students, and prospective future students. He had also undertaken valuable clinical research, demonstrated practical commitment to a dental education project in Malawi and was also a public governor for Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust. This was a very strong all-round entry.’
Of the Sandy Dentalcare team’s complaint handling policy, Andrew said it ‘demonstrated a high level of risk management understanding, as well as showing definite responsibilities and paths to follow’.
He added: ‘But, more than that, it provided clear evidence of reflection, by all team members, as to why the problem occurred in the first place and the lessons to learn for the future. Finally, the entry demonstrated the values of professionalism, teamwork and communication.’
Recognising high standards
Reflecting on this year’s event, dental director at Dental Protection and Dentistry’s consultant editor, Kevin Lewis, said: ‘The fact that the Premier Symposium was sold out this year highlights just how important good risk management is to dentists.
‘It was fantastic to reward the Dental Student and Dental Practice of the Year, in recognition of the high standards in the care they provide and a combination of prioritising the welfare of patients, whilst demonstrating a commitment to giving something back to the community.
‘Finally, it was a huge pleasure to meet so many committed and passionate delegates at my last Premier Symposium as dental director. I will greatly miss creating the programme for our flagship conference that has been so crucial in raising and discussing important and topical issues for dentists in the UK and ensuring risk management is seen as an exciting opportunity to learn.’
Dental Protection and Schülke, a European leader in cross-infection, both have extensive experience in supporting dentists and this annual conference aims to prepare delegates for the key issues common to dentistry in a bid to ensure safer practice.
For details of all future Dental Protection events, click on the ‘events and e-learning’ tab at www.dentalprotection.org.