The responsibilities of the Lead Dean for any specialty are to:
Represent PG Deans at appropriate committees or organisations
Contribute to national policy and its implementation
Act as a conduit for information
Act as a focal point for advice
Help develop and advance the individual specialties
Chairing appeals panels(occasionally)
Each of these responsibilities will be developed in turn.
Representing Postgraduate Deans
The Lead Dean must represent colleagues on appropriate Royal College and Advisory Committees, with particular reference to education and training issues, and workforce planning. Where appropriate, this should extend to other committees or bodies, such as specialist societies, who may deal with education and training matters in the specialty.
It must be the responsibility of Lead Deans to not only work with but challenge Royal Colleges and specialist societies where appropriate, for example, reconciling the approach to training and the numbers of dentists required for service delivery.
A conduit for information
Lead Deans should be conduits for the exchange of information and concerns in both directions between Postgraduate Deans and various stakeholders. The latter include the National Health Service and the Department of Health; the Royal Colleges, their faculties and advisory committees; and others such as specialist societies.
Acting as a focal point for advice
Through gaining particularly deep insights, and keeping abreast of specialty specific issues, a Lead Dean can act as a focal point for responding to queries, questions and requests for advice from a range of sources (including Postgraduate Deans, their Associates and other colleagues; specialty Programme Directors; Royal Colleges and their Advisers locally).
While providing advice for trainees with difficulties will normally be the responsibility of Postgraduate Deans and their staff locally, there are rare occasions when Lead Deans may be involved with the difficulties of individual trainees who may want advice in confidence outside their local mechanisms. For trainees with persistent difficulties, the Lead Dean should be regarded as the final authority on any decisions. Where the trainee involved is in the deanery of the Lead Dean then the Alternate should take on this responsibility.
Developing and advancing specialties Lead Deans should champion and support the cause of education in the specialties for which they are responsible and should take a UK perspective. Examples include the development of educational portfolios, handling issues relating to dual accreditation, and the development of new examinations and approaches to assessment.
Chairing appeals panels
With the embedding of the training reforms to specialist training and the increasing sophistication of the application of sound educational practice, more trainees with difficulties are emerging or being detected. Some will inevitably appeal against decisions perceived as adverse, particularly the issuing of RITA Es (requiring additional training and time), unsatisfactorily ARCP outcomes and the withdrawal of NTNs. The particular insights and independence of Lead Deans are likely to see them increasingly requested to chair appeals panels. However, the potential workload means this cannot be a general responsibility of Lead Deans and is only likely in particular circumstances.
What Lead Deans should not do
Act on behalf of individual trainees in appeals against the appointments process or discussion in the management of a training programme.
Be involved in the management of training programmes in individual Deaneries.
Give advice about the specialty to individual trainees (this is the responsibility of Royal College Advisers and their colleagues who are members of Specialty Training Committees).
The role of Alternates
Alternate Lead Deans should attend particular relevant meetings if the Lead Dean is unable to attend. They will require appropriate briefing and relevant papers, and should report back afterwards. Where necessary Alternate Lead Deans should be the final arbiter on decisions about trainees with difficulties (as described above).