The Dental Leadership Network (DLN) convened at Woburn House in London on June 12, 2024, to spotlight the crucial role of dental leaders in promoting health and wellbeing within the profession.

The event gathered experts to share insights and strategies for fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment.

The conference featured an impressive lineup of speakers, including Safiyyah Yacoobali and Sophia Morris from the Diversity in Dentistry Action Group (DDAG), who discussed the importance of creating a culture of belonging and inclusion in the dental workplace.

Zain Hameed, a trainee in community and special care dentistry at Barts Health NHS Trust discussed managing a chronic health condition in dentistry.

Another event highlight was a panel discussion on mental health wellness in the workplace, facilitated by Catherine Rutland, clinical director at Simply Health. Wendy Duncan, national dental education and training officer, BADT; Theresa Thorp, executive director of regulation at the GDC; and Neena Manek, dentolegal adviser at MDDUS, explored essential support frameworks for dental professionals, emphasising the importance of mental health in maintaining a thriving work environment.

Colin MacKenzie, GDC head of nations and engagement, moderated a discussion on the link between a healthy dental team and exceptional patient care. The panel comprised Catherine Tannahill, director of clinician engagement at Portman Dentex Dental Care; Mark O’Hagan, director of people at Community Dental Services CIC; Stuart Johnson, an active member of the Lancashire and South Cumbria Local Dental Committees; and Ian Wilson, training programme director at NHS England. They highlighted best practices for ensuring the wellbeing of dental teams to enhance patient outcomes.

Mahrukh Khwaja, founder of Mind Ninja, delved into resilience strategies, highlighting both team and individual interventions, and shared data from the NHS Midlands pilot resilience programme.

Leading the charge

Tom Whiting, the GDC’s chief executive officer and registrar, delivered a compelling closing address. “I feel very at home as a member of this network because what we are seeking to do through this network is to come together to tackle some of the trickiest challenges facing dental professionals and patients.

“It was powerful to hear from a range of organisations about their experience of what’s important for mental wellbeing. It is right that we ask ourselves if dental professionals have access to the right support, and make sure that we are all playing our part and not compromising mental wellness in what we do.”

Stefan Czerniawski, GDC executive director of strategy, said, “The Dental Leadership Network provided a vital platform for dental leaders to delve into the critical topic of workplace mental health wellness. By sharing the latest insights, we aim to contribute to the collective knowledge and advancement of the profession.”