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Innovative dental collaboration in the interests of child patients in Yorkshire and the Humber

The selection process takes place in Leeds this month for 12 dentists who will be allocated places on a new paediatric dentistry training programme in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Interest in the level 2 complexity care training funded by Health Education England, Yorkshire and the Humber has surpassed the expectations of the organisers who were inundated with expressions of interest within days of going public.

The level 2 dentist was defined in the Commissioning Standard for Paediatric Dentistry published in 2016. Qualified dentists are trained to provide an enhanced level of care, managing more complex conditions, such as dental anomalies, traumatic dental injuries and managing children who are anxious or phobic.

The 24-month programme is due to start in January, lasts for two years and will equip the participants for level 2 accreditation in paediatric dentistry. It is being led by Rachael Nichol, a consultant in paediatric dentistry in Wakefield, and supported by Esther McDerra, a specialist in paediatric dentistry based in Dewsbury. They have the backing of key dentists in Yorkshire and the Humber, including: James Spencer, postgraduate dental dean; Stephen Fayle, the chairman of the Managed Clinical Network in Paediatric Dentistry; and Simon Hearnshaw, of Health Education England and chairman of the North Yorkshire and the Humber Local Dental Network.

Regional commissioners have given their blessing to the programme. Discussions are now underway over remuneration in the hope that Units of Dental Activity (UDAs) can be replaced with a sessional rate to reflect the time required for management of young patients or patients with special educational needs.

Rachael has a record of innovating. As a trainee, she was the first in Yorkshire to have paediatric dentistry specialist training which was split between the community dental service and hospital, in Doncaster and Leeds Dental Institute respectively. When Rachael arrived in Wakefield in 2019, she was the first consultant in paediatric dentistry to be appointed to the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

She is now looking forward to getting the training programme established. “I cannot believe the amount of interest there has been. We still need more consultants and specialists but having level 2 dentists in the community and in general practice will take the pressure off secondary care services and allow more children to be treated more quickly and closer to home.”

Simon Hearnshaw commented, “It is great to see innovative commissioning in partnership with innovative training enabling the vision of the commissioning guide. The interest from general practice has been impressive and tells us that dentists are very much interested in up-skilling and working across previous historical commissioning boundaries. We are all looking forward to starting and developing this project.”

Stephen Fayle, a BSPD spokesman, commented, “This is a fantastic step forward. The idea of giving our colleagues in the community and in general practice additional specialty-specific training has been around for some time. It was first proposed in 2004 and successfully trialled in Yorkshire but discontinued after the introduction of the GDS contract of 2006. It’s very exciting to see this opportunity to improve dental services for children finally coming to fruition.”

James Spencer commented, “This is an excellent example of what can be achieved when all stakeholders work with a common goal, in this case delivering training to the primary care workforce. I am sure with the team we have invited the programme will be a great success and a springboard for other similar innovations.”