Minutes from the inaugural meeting of the
Cumbria and South Lakeland Dental Nurses Group
Date : Tuesday 6th May 2008
Venue : Skelwith Fold Caravan Park, Ambleside
In attendance : Chloe Booth, director: Total Dental Group (Chair)
01 : Introduction. The meeting was opened by Chloe Booth who welcomed delegates to Skelwith Fold, and thanked those attending for the interest they had demonstrated in forming a group of professional dental nurses in the Cumbria and South Lakeland area. Attendees introduced themselves to the meeting, and outlined the positions they held, and the practices for which they worked.
02 : Modus operandi : CB emphasised that the meeting, although chaired by her on this occasion, was intended to move forward on the basis of delegates' wishes and concerns. To this end, CB invited those attending to raise any points they felt should be covered by the agenda, and to contribute their own ideas to how the group should be structured, and what its aims and remit should be.
03 : Why form a group? The purpose of forming a group for professional dental nurses, suggested CB, would be two-fold. Firstly, the compulsory registration for dental nurses required by the GDC would in the future impose training requirements on the profession which will not always be met by the practices for which nurses presently worked. Secondly, the availability of a group in which ideas could be exchanged, and work-related issues addressed, could provide support for dental nurses and help identify new ways for them to advance their careers
04 : Legal obligations of nurses and dentists. CB gave a brief presentation to the group, outlining the new GDC requirements. Registration for dental nurses will be compulsory from 30 July this year. after which date it will be illegal to use the title "dental nurse" without registration compliance. The purpose of registration, she said, is to ensure that all members of the profession are working to the same GDC standards.
CB explained that trainee dental nurses do not need to register with the GDC until they have completed their studies, but must do so as soon as they qualify. She noted that the responsibility for ensuring compliance within practices was that of dental practitioners, not practice managers, and that it was important they should be aware of their responsibilities.
05 : Requirements for CPD. The presentation by CB went on to explain that at least 150 hours of CPD over a five year period were now required by the GDC, starting from August 1st 2008. At this point in the meeting, comments were invited from delegates on the implications of this requirement, and what challenges and/or opportunities it might present.
06 : Discussion. Many delegates concurred with the view that there was, at best, a lack of knowledge about how CDP was to be provided - and, at worst, a general state of confusion over whether practices or individual nurses were responsible for locating, arranging and funding the CPD. There was, it was generally agreed, a regrettable absence of a source of help when it came to answering these questions. Some nurses present said that a practice manager was likely to be more knowledgeable and helpful in finding solutions than a dentist.
The discussion was broadened to include an exchange of views on the nature of training, and its value to individual nurses. There was concern expressed by some delegates that there was rarely much opportunity to apply the skills they had learned in the clinic where they worked. Dentists, some said, were sometimes reluctant to widen or change a nurse's responsibilities to allow them to make use of the new knowledge they had gained.
CB posed the question of whether delegates had any firm views on they type of training they would like to receive. Many present felt that there were indeed some specific procedures, techniques and professional skills which they like to acquire - with a view to applying these in their present post, or within a new position at another practice for which they would then be qualified.
There was general consensus that CPD had the potential to provide a better career path for dental nurses, and to open up new opportunities for taking on more senior roles and greater responsibilities. Ultimately, though the majority of delegates, the new GDC requirements would have a beneficial impact on the nursing profession - and held out the prospect of nurses being given a higher status within dentistry, and better career mobility.
07 : Aims of nursing group. Based partially on the preceding discussion, CB went on to outline what the Cumbria and South Lakeland Dental Nurses Group might wish to have amongst its main aims. Principal of these, she suggested, should be a means for dental nurses to obtain verifiable and non-verifiable CPD hours to i) help ensure their compliance with GDC requirements, and ii) to equip members with new skills of potential use to them in their professional careers.
A discussion followed in which CB and attendees identified other benefits which might accrue from membership of the group. These included i) networking with nursing peers from within the dental profession, ii) exploring new career development opportunities, and the providing of guidance and advice, iii) encouraging fellow-members to invest in their career through training, iv) opportunities for voicing opinions and suggestions regarding individual issues and the profession generally.
The group, thought delegates, would also have a useful social role in allowing dental nurses to meet and talk informally with others from a similar career background.
08 : Resolutions. It was formally agreed to establish the Cumbria and South Lakeland Dental Nurses Group. The group's purpose and objectives would be broadly those outlined (in 07 Aims) above. The group will meet four times a year, and the minutes of each meeting recorded and circulated. In advance of any meeting, an agenda will be sent by email or post to members.
Each meeting will be chaired by a separate individual from within the group. The appointment will be made considerably in advance of the meeting date to enable to person to liase with the group secretary (see below) on various matters likely to be covered during the meeting. CB encouraged delegates to put themselves forward for the role of chairperson.
CB reported that the Total Dental Group will fund the provision of a permanent secretary for the group who will assist in all areas of administration, and act as a reference point for members with queries. It was proposed to maintain Skelwith Fold Caravan Park as the meeting venue as this facility was available to the group at no cost.
The meeting closed at 7.45pm.
NEXT MEETING : Date to be advised