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Reflections on my term on the FDS Board: Mr Keith Altman FRCS FDSRCS

24 Apr 2018

Mr Keith Altman FRCS FDSRCS has been Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon at the Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, East Grinstead since 2017 and formerly at Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust since 1997. He chaired the Central Committee for Hospital Dental Services (CCHDS) of the British Dental Association (BDA) from 2006 to 2012 and was first elected to the FDS Board in 2008. He will demit in June this year. 

My relationship with the Royal College of Surgeons and the Faculty of Dental Surgery began in 1984 when I became a Fellow (FDSRCS) by examination. Since then, I have been involved in the life of the Faculty in a number of ways. I have been Chair of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Faculty Specialty Advisory Panel and I have been elected to the FDS Board for two terms: once for a six-year term in 2008 and then re-elected for a final 4-year term in 2014. Prior to this, I was an invited member of the Board as I was Chairman of the CCHDS of the BDA from 2006 to 2012. 

During my terms on the FDS Board I have found my experiences outside of the boardroom to be extremely valuable. My role with the CCHDS, for example, brought an additional dimension to our discussions at Board meetings, and encouraged information sharing between the two organisations.

Representing the interests of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons 

I sought to become an elected member of the Board because I enjoyed the meetings I attended as an invited member, and felt that my position on the Board could help me serve the hospital dental specialties – and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, more specifically. I saw an opportunity to maintain the important link between both, not only due to historical reasons, but also because I believe this link is essential.

When I was elected in 2008 I was one of four Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons on the Board. This representation has now diminished and for the last year or so I have been the only one left, which is regrettable. I am not sure if this is due to lack of my colleagues putting their names forward for election or due to the fact that they are, but are not being elected.

I do, however, firmly believe it is essential for our specialty to be represented on the Board even though we are a medical specialty, and for the Board itself to recognise the value of having oral and maxillofacial surgeons as elected members, which I believe it does.

Contributing to the Faculty and the profession

I found my time on the Board to be of great value to me in understanding the issues around the dental specialties and the interface with my specialty. I was able to attend Diplomate ceremonies and represented the Board, not only at CCHDS but also on the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD), which reviews care in all specialties by undertaking a number of national studies each year.

Furthermore, during my time on the Board I found all the Deans, Vice-Deans and other elected members to be like-minded, hard-working professionals with a vast knowledge of the issues facing dentistry in the UK. Their commitment to their task and work with the Faculty was outstanding and I valued their wise counsel.

Worth the commitment 

As a member, it can be difficult to find the time to attend all meetings, dinners and ceremonies, especially these days in the NHS. Certain FDS committees are now conducted by conference call, but over the 10 years I was on the Board I tried to attend as many as I could while having a busy clinical practice to run.

I sincerely hope that Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons will continue to serve on the Board and enjoy their time on it as much as I did. Despite the commitment, I can wholeheartedly recommend putting one’s name forward to be an elected member of the FDS Board.

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