Is the future of dentistry optimistic or all doom and gloom, Michael Watson questions after this year’s BDIA Showcase.

Last week meant a trip to the NEC in Birmingham to visit the BDIA Showcase, which gave me the opportunity to meet in person those at Dentistry who I more often meet via email – thank you for entertaining me.

My days of clinical work and purchasing things is well behind me, but I walk around, observing, meeting, listening and trying to gauge what is going on in the dental profession.

NHS dentistry

What struck me this year, under its new ownership, were the many lectures and presentations going on throughout the day.

Overwhelmingly they were visited by the young, who sat or often stood to listen and learn.

Despite all the gloom and doom we hear, it was good to see the next generation, eager to take an active part in their chosen profession.

Understandably the people I met tended to be at the other end of their careers and they were not brimming with optimism, to say the least.

What, they asked me, was to become of NHS dentistry and when or if we would see the promised ‘new contract’.

I read the documents that come out from time to time and talk to people involved with the prototypes, but all I hear are serious doubts about when or indeed whether there will be any sort of roll-out.

I hear what Government Ministers say, yes, they are fully committed to NHS dentistry.

I read the answers to Parliamentary Questions and, yes, they are trialling these new contractual arrangements, which will reward prevention rather than activity.

But those I speak to say this is nonsense, it is all about getting more people seen for the same money.

Brexit

In the meantime, Ministers seem quite happy to let things drift along as they are and NHS financial directors seem happy to pocket the £100 million plus from clawback each year and divert it elsewhere in primary care.

Then there is Brexit, which will clog up the legislative programme for the next year or two and there are already signs that the supply of ‘cheap’ dentists from Europe is drying up as many return to their countries of origin.

I am glad that our younger colleagues seem so optimistic about their future career, because at the other end of the age spectrum there seems little other than glom and pessimism.