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29th April 2015

Chief Dental Officer

Close up photo of dentistSo, with Barry Cockcroft now retired and enjoying life in the garden somewhere since February, we now have a new Chief Dental Officer. Barry’s credibility retired before him somewhat and I never found anyone who agreed with his assessments of where we, as GDPs, were and what we were doing. The hope is that we will gain a voice and mind in the upper echelons who will have their feet on solid ground and really understand the workings of general practice, both in the community and as a business.

Thank you to Dental Practice for the information that Sara Hurley BDS(UBrist) MFGDP(UK) MSc(UCL) MA(KCL) has been announced by NHS England as the new chief dental officer.

She will serve as principal dental adviser and the professional head of dental staff in England. She says: ‘I am delighted and honoured to be taking up this new challenge as an integral member of the Medical Directorate at NHS England. The role of chief dental officer remains a crucial link between decision-makers, patients and the wide range of front line providers that enable dental health. I am determined to use this position to articulate the dental health needs of our patients and, working collaboratively across the breadth of the dental healthcare profession, present directly to ministers and NHS leaders our fresh ideas; ideas that will contribute to achieving our shared goals of quality health outcomes and better oral health for all.’

Where has she been?

Her CV is interesting! Sara Hurley qualified from the University of Bristol Dental School in 1988 and was immediately commissioned into the Royal Army Dental Corps where she has continued to broaden her ‘clinical dentistry portfolio’ gaining membership of General Dental Practitioners (UK) in 2003, a masters in dental public health at University College London 2004, and a King’s College MA in defence studies 2007.

However, this means she joins the establishment directly from the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine where she has worked with the NHS in coordinating access to healthcare for injured personnel. She has also been the Chief Dental Officer for the army.

I’m afraid the only army dentist I have known personally was very open about his weak points, especially lack of ‘people skills’. Everyone who saw him as a practitioner was there by command. He didn’t have to make people feel comfortable or interact with them about choices available.

What will her job be?

Officially, and I quote: ‘As a senior member of the Medical Directorate, Sara will work in partnership with other directorates, domain leads and other clinical leaders in regional and local area teams to improve outcomes for patients, and champion the role of dentists and dentistry within the health system.’

Now, it begs the question – how many boxes does she tick?

  • Practical knowledge of general practice - No
  • Professional interaction with GDPs - No
  • Feet firmly on the ground - we’ll see!

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

John Shapter

Dental Specialist

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