quote HEE facebook linkedin twitter bracketDetail search file-download keyboard-arrow-down keyboard-arrow-right close event-note

You are here

NHS England Workforce, Training and Education Dental Hygienist and Dental Workforce Lead Tutor recognised in King’s 2023 birthday honours

19 June 2023

With the NHS 75th birthday approaching next month, this year’s King’s Birthday Honours have been awarded to a wide range of NHS staff who have made a significant contribution to healthcare, including our Dental Hygienist and Dental Workforce Lead Tutor, Michael Wheeler.

The King's Birthday Honours mark the extraordinary contributions and service of people across the UK and have awarded Michael a British Empire Medal (BEM), Medallists of the Order of the British Empire for his services to Oral Health in South West England.

Michael was the first dental care professional to lead both a dental hospital and school (in Bristol) and by default was director of the salaried dental service. Outside of the NHS he was the first male president of the British Dental Hygienists Association, and inaugural President of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy. In addition he was an external expert advisor to The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on a number of oral health guidelines, and remains a subject matter specialist to the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) in relation to oral health and dental training.

Michael is the Regional Dental Care Professional Development Lead at NHS England Workforce, Training and Education (WT&E) (formally Health Education England). We took some time to speak to Michael to learn more about himself, his role and his influential work in the dental workforce.

When did you start in the NHS?

1997 after 23 years in the Royal Air Force.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

It provided an opportunity to carry out a wide variety of roles, rather than general dental practice.

Describe what you do in 100 words.

Only 100 words! Currently, I work three days a week, one day per week as lead for dental care professionals in the south west, which in part covers maternity leave, but I also lead on the wider dental workforce issues across the south west. In addition, I have oversight of the regional mouthcare matters team, which with a great deal of support from the wider dental deanery team we set up in 2018. For two days a week, I am the national dental workforce advisor which in real terms is a programme manager for the dental apprenticeships taking the lead on their development and then working with employers and training providers on ensuring the delivery of the current seven dedicated dental apprenticeships. This involves working with a wide range of stakeholders, which I enjoy and currently working with skills for health and other partners on the development of dental hygienist apprenticeships, which will provide greater opportunities for the dental nurse workforce to progress.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The diversity of the role, and the very wide range of people I met, even via MS Teams

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

Join! Many Dental Hygienists and other members of the dental team often outline about the limited opportunities in general dental practice. Over the last 26 years, I have never stood still, the NHS provides opportunities both in training and advancement in career  that no dental practice can provide.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?