Dr Mick Horton FCGDent, Chair of Trustees, reviews the College’s achievements over the past twelve months.

It’s an honour for me to take on the role of Chair of Trustees, following Janet Clarke MBE FCGDent who stepped down in April 2023. Janet remains with us as a Trustee, so we continue to benefit from her wise counsel and breadth of experience.

The last twelve months started with the President, Dr Abhi Pal FCGDent, giving oral evidence to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee on dental services in England, and drew to a close as the UK Government announced its “Dental Recovery Plan”. There’s no doubt that we live in febrile times, with the inadequacies and inequity of dental service provision ever more prominent in the public consciousness. The College is in a unique position to offer a constructive view: reflecting interests across the dental team, across the UK, and bridging private and NHS care provision. It is no surprise, then, that we find ourselves actively invited to contribute in the debate – and we seek to do so in a measured way, and with the independence, broad perspective and authority that you would expect. You will see more of our work in the year ahead to develop our policy thinking, with a new Parliament taking office later this year.

Core to our mission is dental education and training. The role of our College needs careful thought, in a rapidly evolving, diverse and confusing market: it is no longer enough for us to act as just another provider of training when others are better equipped for that role. But we are very clear that all dental professionals need support in making the right choices for their career progression and skills development. Building on the Career Pathways which we published in 2022, we have been working to develop our approach: helping dental professionals to make wise investment for their future. Certified Membership was opened to its first candidates early in 2023, providing mentored support. Later in the year, we added those qualifications which we judge to meet key requirements – “recognised qualifications” – to the CGDent Register of Members & Fellows. Watch out for further announcements as our longer-term plans fall into place.

It’s intimidating to be starting a career in dentistry these days, with so much choice of paths to follow, and pressure to follow the crowd. But there is help and support out there from committed and experienced members of the profession, and we think we can help. With the generous support of the Tom Bereznicki Foundation, in November we ran our first NextGen leadership event for dental students and Dental Foundation Trainees, in Manchester. Moving forward, we aim to build on this initiative.

Preventative care and advice is so obviously a long-term priority, and particularly for children; and yet the urgency of a lack of access to urgent treatment makes it difficult to keep prevention on the agenda. We are partnering with Haleon (formerly GSK) to develop our own thinking on the future role of dental practices, and the whole dental team, in this respect. A number of dental practices have generously hosted a series of discussions around the UK, and you will be hearing about the feedback and conclusions in the months ahead.

The Primary Dental Journal continues to grow as essential reading, and in 2023 we published three authoritative themed issues encompassing aesthetic dentistry, which spanned two issues, and dental trauma – essential references to have beside you. Beyond the themed issues, the PDJ is attracting an increasing number of exceptional papers, too, giving us two rich “General Dentistry” issues in the year. We are looking forward to themed issues in 2024/25 on Implant Dentistry and Oral Medicine.

Our Fellows’ Receptions are ever more eagerly awaited, and we filled the wonderful Cutlers’ Hall in June and in January – bringing together senior professionals to build new relationships and foster a community of leadership. We were honoured to recognise a number of achievements, including the admission of so many new Fellows of the College. We have plans to build on the Fellows Reception to offer more for our members and to strengthen bonds within the College.

Finally, our Honorary Founding President, Nairn Wilson CBE FCGDent, was recognised with a knighthood for his contribution to dentistry over a long and remarkable career – in which the formation of the College has surely been the particularly historic achievement (and highlighted in his citation). Sir Nairn continues to inspire us, as we work to build secure foundations for the future. The College’s own special recognition, the College Medal, was awarded to Andrew Hadden, who continues in his notable contribution to the College and profession as Editor of the College’s Clinical Examination & Record Keeping. Their service, and that of so many others, gives us hope for the future.

Thank you for your support.

Mick Horton

You may be interested in Janet Clarke’s blog reviewing the College’s second Annual Members’ Meeting in March 2023.

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