Can the CDO say what he thinks?
Speaking at the Dentistry Show last week, the chief dental officer (CDO) for England, Barry Cockcroft gave us an insight into his thinking. He told his audience how wonderful oral health was in the country and how those in the private sector should be worried.
How much of this was his view of the world and how much did it represent the views of his ministers?
CDOs are senior civil servants and, as Barry told us, he is the senior dental adviser to the Secretary of State.
As such we expect him to tell us the Government’s view, not his opinions.
He gave us figures to demonstrate how oral health in the UK is the best in Europe if not the world.
As far as caries in 12 year olds he may have a point, although the high rates of hospital admissions raise doubts.
But it is surprising that our CDO is blissfully unaware of the presence of periodontal disease in the population.
In the recent Adult Dental Health Survey, two thirds of those examined had visible plaque and one in ten of them had pain at the time. Just how good is that?
The second half of his talk consisted of a diatribe against private dentistry, which he described as ‘very expensive’.
He also has a problem with some aspects of cosmetic dentistry and producing an unnatural smile.
He did say that although his role was to advise ministers, he was allowed to have his own opinions, but is he allowed to voice them in public?
He was asked to speak as CDO, not as Barry Cockcroft.
His views on the state of oral health were incomplete and many will think his views on dentistry bizarre.
Does what he said represent his advice to ministers? And does the Government hold the same views as its CDO?