Within two weeks of the ALMP introduction meeting I received an email from Barry Cockcroft asking if I would be free to meet him when he was next in Birmingham several weeks later. This went as planned and so on my way back from the dental hospital I met Barry for coffee. We talked for about an hour, within which I learnt a lot about the work he does for the department of health and the particular joys and stresses that it entails. We also talked about my application for a foundation training post next year and Barry gave me some advice for interviews. I found it interesting to hear from an inside perspective on current NHS and dentistry changes. Barry also told me a bit about his career, in particularly his transition between clinical work and public health.
As well as the initial conversation with Barry, he has since given me the opportunity to attend two events which dental students are not normally a part of. One was the initial meeting for the new Local Professional Network in November, which gives dentists in the region a chance to meet up and discuss problems/solutions to things such as patient access, care etc and give their own input on improving the service provided. I had the opportunity here to meet more people involved in public health, as well as meeting general dental practitioners which helps give me more insight into the dental profession.
The second was in December at the Holiday Inn by Birmingham International Airport and was one of the regular meetings of the dental pilot sites – these are dental practices which are trialling different versions of the new dental contract. This was incredibly interesting, and also increased my confidence in the organisation of the NHS because you could clearly see the progression and modification of the contracts based on the direct feedback given at these meetings.
I will next see Barry in late January for a National Steering Group meeting in London, which should also be a very valuable experience. So far I have very much enjoyed the opportunity of communicating with Barry and the people I have met through him, and am looking forward to the next half of the year.