top of page
  • Bernard Alston

Autumn Newsletter - 2017

Hello Lancs and S Cumbria: firstly may I welcome all new members who have joined the Lancs and S Cumbria LDC’s Website particularly to our colleagues from South Cumbria. Welcome also to Riyaz Patel GDP from Barrow and Cumbria LDC Member who has now become the S Cumbria representative on the LDC Exec. Riyaz has settled in very well and ensures the voice of S Cumbria dentists is heard at the monthly liaison meetings with the Area Team. Please do encourage any colleagues from S Cumbria who have not yet registered with the website to do so without delay to enable us to keep them up to speed with developments in dentistry.

Memory Lane: one of the funnier memories from my early career is when we decided in the practice that we would provide out of hours cover at the weekends (pre EDS). To enable the phone to work over the weekend we had to by-pass the main power isolation switch which was situated by the front door of the practice. One of my partners, who will remain anonymous but whose initials were SW, said this was no problem and acquired a length of cable to do the job. So over a lunchtime he changed into some old clothes and got down under the floorboards through the hatch situated at reception – there was not much clearance! BA stood guard above ground to supervise the operation. There then commenced much grunting and groaning (and the odd expletive!) as SW potholed his way across to the main switch by the front door, a distance of around 20 ft. Picture the scene – the time was now 13.30, the practice was due to re-open at 14.00 ( no pressure then!) SW slowly but surely inched his way along under the floor dragging the cable behind him. All of a sudden there was a string of expletives emitted from below ground culminating in the statement –THE CABLE IS TOO +++++++ SHORT!!!! BA was then dispatched to the hardware shop abandoning the stranded potholer underground in order to purchase a further length of cable to finish the job off. The task was finally completed as patients were arriving at 14.00 at reception to see SW scrambling back through the hatch looking like a coal miner who had just finished a 12 hour shift!

AMR Campaign: following the current move to reduce the prescription of antimicrobials across healthcare services the LDC Exec have been working with the Area Team to produce some literature to support the process and signpost patients to dental services rather than turning up at their GP or even worse A&E. Patients turn to their GP or A&E just because they were not given an antibiotic prescription by their dentist.. The essential strap line for the literature is “Antibiotics don’t cure toothache” and has some nice pictures to get the message across. Included also is the contact number for the Local Dental Helpline. The literature is supported by PHE/NHSE/FGDP/BDA. There are concerns that in some cases GDPs have been wrongly criticised by both patients and other healthcare professionals for (quite rightly) refusing to prescribe ABs when they are inappropriate. The main thrust of the campaign is to get the information out there to clarify the situation and to have an official statement to stand behind. Exec Action: the communication process will be going to the LDN in September for sign off and circulated accordingly

CQC meeting: as part of the monthly LDC/Area Team Liaison Meeting agenda we have a “Keynote Speaker” and at the November meeting we have John Milne Clinical Dental Lead at the CQC. This is an ideal opportunity to feed back on all the CQC visit experiences that have taken place across the patch. To this end I would really appreciate it if you would give me some feedback on “How it went for you”. Just a few simple bullet points are all I require so I can collate the issues in question and we can discuss in length at the meeting. Exec Action: I will circulate a report following the meeting.

Please send feed back to

DPASS: I have reported on the resurrection of the DPASS scheme in previous newsletters and so far it is proving very effective. GDC cases which have come to the Performers Advisory Group (PAG) at NHS England have been able to be closed following a DPASS meeting and feedback. This success is hopefully moving us closer to the Local Resolution processes that used to be in place before the GDC became over-zealous in their actions! Having been involved in these cases and processing the feedback for PAG I have witnessed first hand how traumatic the GDC process is for practitioners. I have seen sound dentists taken through a GDC investigation following a patient complaint that should never have got to GDC level. The outcome has been the issuing of a Warning or Advice by the GDC which then comes to PAG for consideration. Previously there was no way out for these cases and PAG were stuck with an open ended situation but now we have DPASS the situation is different. There may be light at the end of the tunnel though under the GDC “Shifting the Balance” programme where there is a move to get back to more Local Resolution in the minor cases which let’s face it is where they should be. Personally I am making it my crusade to move DPASS forward and will work with whoever it takes to get some common sense back into the GDC disciplinary process – Rant Over!

Communication sources: I ask the question - do you know how much information there is out there for your perusal? You may not all be aware of the wealth of information available on the Lancashire and South Cumbria LDC’s Website but one thing is for certain if you haven’t registered you will never know!

We have an extensive library of information, guidance, policies and protocols. Of particular relevance; you will find referral forms and procedures for orthodontics and oral surgery (including 2-week rule information), an archive of minutes from our meetings with the Area Team, and from the Routine Care Network & Specialist Networks. We also have a vacancies page with a wide range of opportunities being offered by practices and institutions in our area (If you wish to advertise please do get in touch.) Our Education hub is growing gradually and this is something we are looking to build on for 2018. We are very open to new ideas regarding content and it really helps for us to receive your feedback on how we can continue to build this resource.

To keep everyone up to speed with emerging strategy and policy relating to Dental Practice the following regular up-dates are available;

Lancs and S Cumbria LDC Newsletter - distributed quarterly

Noel’s Routine Read - this quarterly periodical which gives a snapshot report from each Routine Care Network Meeting written in an “easy read” fashion by Noel Bowen, East Lancs GDP and RCN member

RCN minutes - the full minutes of the meeting are also on the website if you require more detail

LDC/Area Team Liaison Minutes: the minutes from the monthly meetings are posted on the website – this gives the political spin.

Local Dental Network Minutes - the LDN is held bi-monthly and the minutes are available to view on the website. This gives the strategic update from the highest local level


Occ Health/Hep B crisis: the provision of Occupational Health Services across the patch has been rather hit and miss over the past few years. This should all be rectified following the current procurement process which will get underway shortly. Recent issues arose however due to the global Hep B vaccine crisis where it had been identified that there was a shortage of vaccine for immunisation purposes. To summarise the current state of play is:

  • There is a global shortage of Hep B vaccine –

  • Healthcare personnel seeking pre-employment vaccination are being told of huge delays –

  • Of all NHS workers dental staff are the most likely to incur a sharps injury due to the extremely high number of procedures we undertake using sharp instruments –

  • It is therefore essential that dental staff are prioritised accordingly –

  • Recent updates from PHE suggest that there may be an easing of the crisis but this information is not evidenced as yet

Exec Action: Following the lobbying by the LDC Exec Eric Rooney has raised the issue with members of the political hierarchy including David Geddes. Also letters will be sent jointly badged by NHSE and the LDN to all Occupational Health departments across the patch stressing the importance of prioritising dental staff in terms of access to Hep B pre employment vaccinations.

Just one more thing: Speed camera vans are the curse of the modern motorist. Sneaky individuals hide in ridiculous places and catch innocent drivers out for being a couple of miles over the speed limit. My first experience of this was being caught by a static speed camera doing 34 miles an hour down in a 30 miles an hour section of the A6 into Preston. I then managed 13 years without an incident until February last year when on the way up to the Lakes we were “bagged” by a chap from Cumbria Police who was loitering with intent on a bridge over the Northbound M6 in a rusty old yellow van! OK so I was speeding but it is only fair game to at least look the part and not be snooping around in a non-roadworthy old banger more appropriate for shifting rubbish. Beware he is still out there in the same van, so the word of advice from the Exec is keep your eyes peeled for the rusty old yellow van looking shifty on Cumbrian motorway bridges!

That’s all for now folks

Onwards and upwards


Bernard Alston

Sec Lancs and S Cumbria LDC exec

bottom of page