Focused vision – an update on advancing dental care

trying to focus on advancing dental careTwo years after its commission, Malcolm Smith provides an update on Advancing Dental Care. (ADC).

Health Education England commissioned Advancing Dental Care (ADC) in the autumn of 2017. The aim, to consider the skills and composition of the future dental workforce that will best meet future patient needs. Consequently followed by the training structures and funding models that will deliver that workforce.

The review’s first phase concluded with the publication of the ADC report in May 2018. It set out 21 recommendations for safeguarding future dental workforce sustainability and supply. Phase two considers the recommendations through a three-year programme. It will comprise further focused research, stakeholder engagement, options analysis and piloting training models. As well as pathways for the whole dental team, DCPs and dentists, working within the NHS.

Key themes

The first step was to set up a number of workstreams to review five key themes. This was led by the Health Education England (HEE) dental deans:

  • Workforce intelligence
  • Economics of training
  • Training programmes
  • Academic training opportunities
  • Leadership and development.

These key themes focused on workforce intelligence to identify and gather evidence to understand the shape of the dental workforce. Then creating an understanding of the economics of training and the funding streams available.

A further workstream is looking at training programmes to identify new pathways of education for the whole dental team. From pre-registration through to enhanced skills and specialty.

The other two workstreams are considering academic training opportunities and the development of leadership and development models.

This work continued through the rest of 2018 and into the spring of 2019.

Thanks to the support of a number of organisations, including the General Dental Council, the British Dental Association and the NHS Business Services Authority, the level of evidence and data available has improved significantly.

Pivotal plans

In January 2019, the NHS published its Long Term Plan followed by an initiative to develop an ‘interim people plan’ to support the whole NHS workforce and signpost the models for workforce in the future.

Dentistry played a full part in the development of the plan, bringing together representatives from Health Education England, NHS England, Public Health England and the Department of Health & Social Care.

This therefore resulted in the publication of objectives that are focused on dental contract reform in primary care, workforce retention and development and models to develop leaders in dentistry to engage with the emerging integrated care systems and primary care networks.

The ADC programme is seen as pivotal in delivering the workforce objective and, as such has been included in the HEE mandate for 2019/20. The priority is to enable the dental workforce to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to ensure oral health and dentistry takes its rightful place in the NHS of the future.

Next step

The ADC programme is about to embark on its next important stage in the development of education and training models through a process of stakeholder engagement in the autumn of this year.

We have therefore identified a broad range of key organisations, stakeholders and influencers. We’ll engage with these groups both nationally and locally. However, we also need to hear from individuals, including dentists and DCPs, as well as patients’ representatives, and the mechanism for this will be through the ADC website and the associated mailbox.

There are opportunities to feed in ideas and views on proposed developments as part of the engagement exercise later this year. These developments will also go live on the website as they occur.

I hope you will take the opportunity to contribute to this important and exciting initiative.

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