Members, welcome to the historic city of Cambridge, and to Robinson College. When planning this conference 2 years ago we had no idea that it would coincide with the date of the biggest change in NHS dentistry since 1948, at the same time, another reorganisation of the NHS is underway. Not surprisingly this has suggested to me that my theme for this address should be “Change”. The traditional theories of strategic change emphasised the need for organisations to respond and adapt to changes in the environment by ﬁrstly ‘unfreezing’ their current position, before making the desirable changes and then stabilising or ‘refreezing’ these changes. However, as organisational change theories develop, it is becoming clear that in modern society, the attainment of stability is not a realistic goal. I think that this applies to all areas of life. The external environment, in the form of fundamental technological, organisational and social change, is shifting faster now than ever before. This suggests that continuity and stability are unlikely to occur in the near future. Organisations must therefore learn to view change as a continuous process of adaptation to an evolving environment. This seems particularly pertinent for the current NHS and for dentistry. I always enjoy reading the articles of Stephen Hancocks and I would like to quote from his editorial in the BDJ just 3 weeks ago: “The human condition does not much like change. ‘Why can’t it be like it was?’ is a frequently heard plea in many areas of life. Well, put quite bluntly, it can’t be like it was”. Cambridge today is certainly not like it was at its inception 2,000 years ago. The current city with its juxtaposition of old and new provides a fascinating place to visit and an exciting place to live, the contrasts being evidence of the changes that Cambridge has experienced. It was near Castle Hill during the ﬁrst century BC that Belgic tribes established the ﬁrst settlement, near the spot where the river Granta ( the original name for the Cam) could be easily forded. When the Romans arrived in AD 43, however, it took on a more strategic signiﬁcance, the ford was the crossing point on the Via Devana, the Roman road connecting Colchester with Chester, the Romans duly stationed soldiers here to secure the Emperor’s interests against rebellious Britons – and it is likely these soldiers were called upon to do exactly that during the Iceni uprising in AD50. Under the Romans the settlement grew from a village to a town- but it wasn’t until the eighth century that it acquired its ﬁrst bridge, built by the great Mercian king Offa, where Magdalene bridge stands today.
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