Local dental networks

What is a Local Dental Network?

Securing Excellence in Primary Care (June 2012), committed to the development of local professional networks of which Local Dental Networks (LDN) is one.

The remit of the Local Dental Network

  • Support the implementation of national strategy and policy at a local level.
  • Work with key stakeholders on the development and delivery of local priorities.
  • Provide local clinical leadership.

Local Dental Networks are a key part of providing multidisciplinary sustainable leadership for the NHS and work across commissioning and provider services. They are hosted and supported by their local team to improve outcomes for patients through clinical focus, medical expertise and collaboration.

Local Dental Networks aim to:

  • Cover the whole dental pathway across primary, secondary and community care as well as out of hours services.
  • Play a key role in supporting the development of quality measures for dental primary and secondary care.
  • Work closely with local authorities and Public Health England to deliver and develop cohesive oral health strategies and associated commissioning plans.
  • Work closely with Dental Public Health consultants.

These key functions aim to generate a whole range of benefits, including:

  • Providing commissioners and providers credible and consistent clinical advice.
  • Ensuring prioritised and aligned improvement activities are supported.
  • Creating patient care pathways that cross organisational boundaries securing a collaborative approach.
  • Ensuring learning and improvement is spread and disseminated between peers.
  • Patients are able to have a structured route for engagement in service improvement.
  • Contribution to system resilience healthcare.

Who sits on a Local Dental Network?

The network can vary from locality to locality, but generally can include:

  • A clinical chair
  • A manager from within the NHS England local team who is responsible for ensuring adequate administrative input and support
  • NHS England commissioners/dental leads
  • Local clinicians from across the clinical spectrum
  • Patient representatives
  • Secondary care consultants
  • Other specialists as agreed, i.e. dental public health consultants
  • Local dental committee representatives
  • Managed clinical networks chairs
  • Therapists/hygienists
  • Educational supervisors

The chair is professionally accountable to the local NHS England Medical Director and managerially accountable to the Director of Commissioning.

There is also an additional responsibility to Eric Rooney (national clinical lead and deputy chief dental officer england) and Sara Hurley (chief dental officer england).

What do Local Dental Networks do?

The networks develop annual work plans that describe their improvement priorities. This work plan is based on analysis of local need and national priorities. This plan is supported by an organisational development programme which describes supporting actions to improve the engagement and effectiveness of the network.

The work plans should be developed in line with the commissioning cycle and on an annual basis. The network should engage with external stakeholders to review the effectiveness of the network and delivery of work plan objectives to inform the following year’s priorities.

Examples of work carried out by Local Dental Networks:

  • The alcohol guidance wheel
  • A patient leaflet on diabetes
  • The Antimicrobial resistance Toolkit
  • E-referral pathways
  • Links to care homes
  • Unscheduled care provision

How often does a Local Dental Network meet?

The network itself meets locally every three months. There are usually separate subgroup meetings. Again, this can vary region to region.

Additionally, there are four national assemblies throughout the year hosted by NHS England and Office of the Chief Dental Officer that the Local Dental Network chair is required to attend.

Two out of these four meetings are also attended by representatives from Public Health England and Health Education England.


The clinical viewpoint is valuable to NHS England. It challenges the commissioners to think about why they are thinking of changing a service. Clinicians on the network advise on training and educational requirements resulting in some fundamental changes.

The LDN is pivotal in ensuring the commissioning of the ‘whole’ pathway, not just one part of it. This is where the value of the network of clinicians that are included on the LDN is crucial. Without the LDN it is likely that the clinical input would come from a single clinician parachuted in. The network provides a more balanced view.

The LDN gives the commissioner the chance to explain to its members the restrictions and priorities that NHS England is working to. Both parties have come to appreciate the need to work together.

Contact us

If you would like to get involved please email England.CDOExecutive@nhs.net to be put in touch with your local LDN Chair.