Tom Ferris is the Chief Dental Officer (Interim) for Scotland. Previously the Deputy CDO, he has been in this post for around three months and has a vital role in leading the dental profession and supporting the Scottish Government's development of oral health policy.
We are now over a year on from the publication of the Scottish Government's ambitious plan for the future of oral health care in Scotland. The Oral Health Improvement Plan (OHIP) sets out the framework that Ministers believe will improve oral health, and transform dentistry for patients and the dental profession, in Scotland for the next generation.
We are clear that the patient is at the centre of everything that the Scottish Government is doing in health care, and dentistry has a key role in delivering improved outcomes for people. I am excited about the opportunities that the OHIP provides, in Scotland, to design a new model of oral health care that both reflects the needs of patients and supports professionals delivering care and advice. This is an opportunity to ensure that the increased focus on oral health develops a system fit for the future.
The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, included two dental commitments in her 2018/19 Programme for Government, which has provided key early opportunities to develop and deliver improvement. We are developing policy changes that will impact right across the population, and the first important area is through the introduction of oral health Domiciliary Care for people living in Care Homes. Progress will become more visible as early adopter dentists undertake the required training to become an enhanced practitioner and begin making routine visits to Care Homes from July this year.
We are keen to build on success and our national oral health improvement programme, 'Childsmile', has proved its worth over a number of years. However, challenges remain, especially for children living in the most deprived areas of Scotland. I am particularly interested in ensuring that inequalities are reduced, and I am convinced that the ideas and energy needed to improve the situation sits within the communities themselves. The Oral Health Community Challenge Fund has been set up to provide funding for Third Sector and voluntary organisations to deliver projects that support improving the oral health of infants and wider community through a range of innovative local projects. This fund will be on the ground from July this year.
The OHIP contains a range of separate actions, many of which are inter-related and have links across a variety of different themes. The key theme that we will be taking forward in the course of this year is a 'New Model of Care', which will require a joined-up approach from both the Scottish Government and our partners, including the citizens of Scotland.
This partnership will focus on a more rigorous approach to developing the new preventive care pathway, oral health risk assessment and improved periodontal care. The key tests for us are to ensure that we develop policy that drives evidenced interventions to deliver a new model of care that makes sense to patients, and provides a secure transition for the dental profession.
This all sounds like a lot, and it is, however, if we stick to our principles, to deliver better outcomes for the patient, then we will have achieved a great deal over the next few years.
Tom is always keen to hear a wide range of views, and tweets regularly from his Twitter account: @CDO_Scotland