CDO gives positive message to orthodontists at BOC 2016

Sara Hurley speaking 2Chief Dental Officer Professor Sara Hurley, speaking at the British Orthodontic Conference in Brighton last month, indicated that the future of orthodontic commissioning is guaranteed

She said: ‘I do not see it (orthodontics) not being part of the NHS. If there is a need, it needs to be addressed.’

She explained that the number of Units of Orthodontic Activity (UOAs) expended in the last financial year went down by nearly 1% and as a result there could be more NHS orthodontic treatment for young patients.

She congratulated orthodontists saying that the reduction in UOAs was testament to the rigorous application of the recall approach they had adopted, adding: “We can increase access to your fantastic care – well done for that.’

Points raised

  1. The nature of orthodontic contracts (which have been mired in uncertainty  because they were designed to be time-limited) – she said rolling orthodontic contracts were under discussion -they could be automatically rolled over if all Key Performance Indicators were ticked.
  2. A future evaluation of orthodontic contracts – the questions to be asked are: “Are we improving oral health and are we increasing access?”
  3. The wider benefits of orthodontics – referencing IOTN scoring she said the value was not just a number. There was more to need than could be measured by IOTN. ‘The need is psychosocial and the need is long-term health outcomes.’ She also praised the Easy IOTN App launched at the conference for all GDPs


While the tone and content of her presentation were positive, there were hints of uncertainty, for instance, when she said that while her plans are for the decades ahead, those who hold the purse strings think in the moment. Hinting at a shift away from referrals to hospital, she said, that she didn’t want silos and the “legacy barriers” between primary care and secondary care settings needed to be tackled. This would fall to the Managed Clinical Networks and Local Dental Networks to manage.

Emma Wallis, Programme Lead for dental and optical contracts, spoke in the same session chaired by Colin Wallis, Director of Clinical Practice.

Some key facts to come out of her speech included:

·      There are 1050 orthodontic contracts and 565 are PDS and 485 are mixed contracts.

·      LDNs are at the heart of place-based commissioning model and MCNs are accountable to the LDNs.

·      Orthodontics accounts for 9% of the overall dental budget

Other presentations

Other presentations at the conference included Professors Kevin O’Brien and Lysle Johnston, two of the most eminent orthodontic academics in the world, joined forces to discuss evidence-based treatment, in Prof Johnston’s words, ‘to try and reverse the apparent drift towards cosmetology.’ The Northcroft lecture was delivered by Professor Tony Ireland who discussed orthodontic materials, past present and future.

The conference also included parallel sessions for orthodontic nurses and therapists and the Orthodontic Technicians Association held their conference alongside the BOC. The three day event was a resounding success for BOC Chairman Richard Jones and his committee who paid tribute to BOS administrator Ann Wright and her team. Richard and his team are now working on BOC 2017 in Manchester.

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