Good practice in dental commissioning in London

Involving the public in dental service commissioning in London


NHS England London developed an approach to participation in dental commissioning. This included a Dental Patient Board which works with commissioners to get views and work together on a range of topics, including community dental services and oral surgery. Members have grown in skills and confidence and now get involved with service specifications, group discussions and procurement.


London region identified a need to develop an approach to involving the public in its dental commissioning programme. The London region team was also aware of the legal requirement to make arrangements for public involvement in commissioning.

Overview of public involvement activity

Dental commissioners recruited 17 representatives to the new London Dental Patient Board.

Care was taken to ensure that membership was inclusive and reflected a broad section of society. The group is chaired by a consultant in dental public health.

Monthly meetings were arranged, initially over a six month period, to enable the group to form and be given presentations and briefings to develop their understanding of commissioning and provider arrangements. They also met dental providers and commissioners from across the wider network.

Meetings are now bimonthly and commissioners work with board members to get their views on planned dental commissioning activity, as well as asking for volunteers to work more closely with them on project specifics. Topics include out-of-hours and urgent dental care, community dental services, oral surgery provision and commissioning new dental practices. The scope of the board is expanding to include projects related to optometry and community pharmacy.

Who carried out the activity?

The activity was led by dental commissioners in London region with specialist advice and support from the then London Region Patient and Public Voice team.

What difference has the activity made?

Following the induction process, members gained in knowledge and started to confidently contribute to key service change and discussions, for example in the redesign of out-of-hours urgent dental care. For this programme, members shared their experiences of using current services and contributed to small group discussions. This included discussion on how responsive the service would need to be, exclusions from the service, different ways to configure provider models and accessibility. They attended a market stimulation event where changes to the service specification were discussed with potential and current service providers. Members also helped develop questions to be included in the pre-qualifying and invitation to tender sections of the procurement process.

Who is the contact for more information?

How were people told about the difference their participation had made?

They were kept informed through the London Dental Patient Board.