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NHS facing severe shortage of dentists

23 January 2019

NHS facing severe shortage of dentists

The BDA has called on government to wake up to the workforce crisis in dentistry, as new survey evidence from the General Dental Council suggests up to a third of the UK's 6,300 European qualified dental registrants intend to leave UK dentistry.

Half (50%) of respondents stating their intentions to leave referenced Brexit, and wider economic uncertainty. A quarter (24%) also mentioned the state of dentistry, including the way it is regulated or the state of the NHS, including NHS contracts as reasons for intending to leave.

While registrant numbers have remained broadly stable post Brexit, the BDA has expressed deep concerns that government has thus far been unwilling to engage on growing recruitment and retention problems. Last year BDA surveys indicated over two thirds (68%) of NHS practices in England who attempted to recruit in the last year struggled to fill vacancies. Half (50%) of the NHS practices who attempted recruitment had reported issues in the previous year. 

Recent official data has shown morale among dentists has hit an all-time low, with lower levels of morale also linked to higher NHS commitments. Owing to recruitment issues and a recent spate of practice closures new patients across England are now facing over 50 mile journeys to secure NHS access.

Head of Regulatory Intelligence at the GDC, David Teeman, said: "Exploring the intentions of people who are currently able to work in UK healthcare because their qualifications are recognised under EU legislation is essential. This research was undertaken before important issues have been resolved, such as recognition of qualifications, residency rights and access to the UK for existing and prospective dental professionals. Once these issues are settled, we are planning a further round of research which will aim to provide us with increased insight and aid us in our planning. We recognise the information could be useful to others, for example those involved in workforce planning, and will therefore be making it publicly available also."

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said: "Government has failed to even acknowledge the scale of the crisis that's been facing dentistry for several years. Broken NHS contracts, rock bottom morale and now Brexit are all taking their toll. 

"The writing is now on the wall for too many European and UK qualified dentists. Government needs to wake up and smell the coffee. NHS dentistry can't be run without dentists."

Source: www.bda.org and www.gdc-uk.org

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