This January marks 15 years since I took over Langley Dental Practice. I remember it was 23 December 1997 when the sale of the practice to me was completed. I was very anxious and nervous being introduced to the existing staff. The previous owner David Brown had owned the practice since February 1965 which ironically was the month I was born. Taking over such a long established practice was a major change of culture for the team. At the time the practice was very small and cramped and had only two chairs for dental treatment and a patient base of around 1500. In 1998 I initially revamped both surgeries and installed brand-new equipment. My first day at work was 13 January 1998. My ambition was always to have a larger multi chair practice with brand-new modern facilities. In the year 2000 I purchased a large piece of land around the practice that was leasehold from the council. Over the next few years I fought very hard to try and raise funds and support from my local primary care trust in order to expand the practice. In 2004 planning permission was granted to expand the practice from 2 to 4 chairs. I will always be grateful for the support of local MP Jim Dobbin in regards to the planning application as well as the then minister of State at the Department of Health Rosie Winterton MP.
Although central funding never came through for the expansion of the practice, the primary care trust were very helpful and supportive during the rebuild period by allowing me to use nearby local premises while the practice was effectively demolished and rebuilt. I ended up taking a large bank loan in order to finance the expansion. When the practice reopened in October 2005 I was tremendously proud of the achievements of having a state-of-the-art and brand-new modern practice in the heart of Langley. From that initial patient base of 1500 back in 1998 we now have over 18000 patients on our computer list. Our premises are air-conditioned and fully compliant with the disability discrimination act. We were recently inspected by the independent watchdog the care quality commission (CQC) and we had a positive and very favourable report passing all that outcomes that were inspected in. In early 2011 we achieved BDA (British Dental Association) Good Practice status. This is an externally audited quality benchmark awarded to practices that meet certain very high standards set by our professional association.
As a local practitioner I joined the Bury and Rochdale local dental committee back in 1998. In 2003 I was made Chairman. I was Chairman for three years between 2003 and 2006 and during this time I helped try and steer dental practitioners in our area through the difficulties and stresses and trauma of the NHS dental contract of 2006. I was also during this time a member of the British Dental Association and was appointed to several national committees working with the Department of Health on the implementation of this contract. Although this particular contract was flawed we at the British Dental Association knew that from day one but I am still nevertheless proud of the work that I as part of that team did in trying to minimise the harm that it did not only to dental practices but also to the wider general public. The fact that the current government is now piloting a new prototype dental contract for introduction in the next few years shows that we at the BDA were right and the Department of Health at that time were wrong.
When I first took over the practice there was a team of four including two dentists. Now we have a team of 15 including five dentists three receptionists and two cadet dental nurses. I am passionate about staff training and development and I am delighted that we are able to make a contribution to the local employment economy in an area of high deprivation and social need.
The past 15 years have been the best of my professional life. I am proud of the achievements at Langley Dental Practice. I am excited and optimistic about the future.