Community Dental Services

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Community Dental Services's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Community Dental Services is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


CEO Alison Reid receiving the Social
Enterprise Business of the Year Award
from actor Michael Sheen OBE along
with other members of the CDS team
CDS provides dental
treatment for patients with
complex needs
Community Dental Services CIC (CDS) has a clear social
purpose: to improve oral health in deprived communities.
CDS supports vulnerable and marginalised people who
would otherwise find it difficult to access oral healthcare and
receive the treatment and information they need. CEO Alison
Reid discusses their impact and their goals moving forward.
CDS reaches vulnerable and remote communities, as well as individuals in prisons,
young offenders, homeless centres, care homes, special schools, women’s refuges,
traveller communities and children with learning disabilities. Over 70 per cent of our
patients have additional needs. We work in partnership with the NHS, businesses,
schools and community groups to bring the best clinical dental services and oral health
information to people whom traditional dental services may not reach. Our core
services are special care and paediatric dentistry, which we deliver from clinics and our
outreach programme. We also provide epidemiology services, screening programmes
and oral health improvement schemes. Our patient satisfaction rate is 98 per cent.
A dentally-led enterprise
CDS is the only entirely employee-owned dental social enterprise, and one of two
dental social enterprises in the UK. The decision to become a social enterprise was
made by employees transitioning out of the NHS in 2011, with over 70 per cent voting
to become an employee-owned social enterprise. This established employee ownership
and social enterprise as the core principles upon which our business was founded.
We are dentally led, which, while not uncommon in the dental sector, is unusual
within the health service, as we have a majority of dental professionals on the
»CEO: Alison Reid
»Founded in 2011
»Based in Colworth Park,
»Services: Employee-owned
social enterprise that provides
dental care for vulnerable and
marginalised people
»Number of employees: 286
»Turnover: £13 million
»Grown by 300 per cent in
seven years
»38 clinics and four mobile
»63,000 patient appointments
Community Dental
Highlighting best practice
board. Importantly, this means clinical
excellence is at the heart of what we
do. As a social enterprise, our surpluses
are reinvested into the business –
£1.2 million was invested into patient
services over the last year, including
measures to improve how we support
vulnerable patients such as training
clinical teams in Makaton. Our ethos
aims to deliver on our social mission to
improve oral health for more people
through our continued growth strategy,
allowing us to increase our viability and
sustainability in more communities. By
reinvesting surpluses and diversifying
our services, we have extended our
reach to and highlighted the current
gaps in dental care for more vulnerable
communities. We engaged in a
recent programme supporting asylum
seekers, which has led to the creation
of a sustainable scheme to meet their
needs. We leverage our economy of
scale to work across service boundaries
to share skills and support practice to
achieve a greater social impact.
Through our Charity CDS Action,
£175,000 has been successfully donated
in grants in the past three years to
communities and charities committed
to improving health and wellbeing.
We have developed partnerships with
charities such as Crisis at Christmas,
providing support for their annual dental
programme for rough sleepers. Through
CDS Action we have extended our social
impact way beyond our core remit of
dentistry and oral health improvement.
During 2018, we have given grants to
local hospices to purchase a specialist
bladder scanner, first responder
services, resulting in increased survivor
rates following heart attacks and to an
educational charity to purchase study
packs for socially disadvantaged young
people studying for GCSE and A level.
Growing our impact
Since 2011, we have grown by around
300 per cent and now work across eight
counties in central and east England with
38 clinics, 286 employees and a turnover
of £13 million (2017/18). Employees have
shaped the company culture creating a
set of core “dental” values and code of
behaviours while a system of shared local
leadership empowers local managers
and teams to set their own budget
priorities and make decisions in the best
interests of their patients. Many initiatives
are developed by our workforce and
this is evidenced by 95 per cent of our
employees feeling proud of the service
we provide patients. We have employee-
elected directors on our board and an
employee representative group that
looks at business development and
how we can improve the wellbeing of
our employees and patients.
We have a strong focus on oral
health improvement: tooth decay is
a preventable disease, yet last year in
England 42,911 children were admitted
to hospital to have a general anaesthetic
to remove teeth unable to be saved.
This is disproportionately impacting
on the poorest and most vulnerable
in society and we aim to target oral
health improvement and tooth-friendly
activity where it is needed most to
reduce these statistics. Last year, our oral
health teams reached 21,000 children,
often in deprived communities. We
also trained almost 1,300 professionals
in oral health improvement so they,
in turn, can impart information and
guidance to those they support such as
CDS specialises in
paediatric dentistry
Our ethos aims
to deliver on
our social
mission to
improve oral
health for more
people through
our continued
allowing us to
increase our
viability and
in more
young children, people with learning
disabilities and mental health issues,
the homeless and young offenders. The
parents of one patient with complex
needs remarked, “I cannot express to
you how much we appreciate your time
and attention. It has made the world
of difference to our son and will have
effects that continue for the rest of his
life.” We are proud of the wonderful
feedback we receive from patients and
the difference we make.
In terms of wider oral health prevention,
CDS is aiming to raise the issue of the
need for consistent national approaches
to tackle the rising levels of tooth decay
in the poorest communities, for example,
water fluoridation and supervised
toothbrushing programmes, which are
not universal across England. Starting
Well is a national scheme piloting in 13
local authorities with high tooth decay
rates but a nationwide approach is
still needed. We play a role in trying to
influence policy, as well as working with
and supporting Public Health England
to promote dental health through our
oral health improvement work.
Building in the future
We aim to extend our reach even
further through working in partnership
with charities and other social
enterprises, such as Teeth Team charity
and NaviGo mental health provider
to support supervised toothbrushing
and provision of toothbrushing packs
for vulnerable people, and creating
packages to offer to businesses to
supplement funds from our charity.
We are always looking for innovative
ways to take oral health and dental
treatment into more communities.
Recently, we doubled our number of
mobile surgeries, which has given us
the opportunity to work with other
businesses as part of their corporate
social responsibility as well as taking
services directly to those most in need,
such as homeless shelters, learning
disability centres, care homes and
young offender units. Last year, 1,200
patients were seen in our mobile
clinics. We engage proactively with
larger corporate businesses to seek
funding and organisational support
to enable both direct access to their
employees for oral health improvement
and to partner in the creation of oral
health programmes that will deliver
real social impact as part of their
corporate and social responsibility
strategies. A successful example is
with construction company Wates,
where we used our mobile clinics
to offer examinations, treatment
and information to their transitory
workforce across the UK.
I cannot express
to you how
much we
appreciate your
time and
attention. It has
made the world
of difference to
our son and will
have effects that
continue for the
rest of his life
Clinical teams have
learnt to speak Makaton
to communicate more
effectively with patients
Clinical treatment is combined with
oral health improvement programmes


This article was sponsored by Community Dental Services. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister