The British Dental Association (BDA) has responded to news from the Dental Schools Council (DSC) that suggests that dental academic staffing levels appear to be recovering after a long period of decline.
The BDA has welcomed the news, but called on the DSC to address the underlying factors driving the continuing national shortage of dental academics.
Last year 6.4% of all academic posts were vacant. Nearly half, 8 out of the 18, dental schools commented on the difficulties in recruiting to a particular specialty or grade.
Dr Giles McCracken, Chair of the BDA's Central Committee for Dental Academic Staff (CCDAS) said:
"It is welcome news that the decline in clinical academic staffing levels has bottomed out, but this is not quite Mission Accomplished. High quality education is the bedrock of an effective dental workforce, and we need to see a strategy to keep teaching numbers prioritised and at safe and sustainable levels.
"We are still grappling with a national shortage of dental academics. While roads appear to be opening up for those who want to focus on learning rather than research, clinical teachers suffer from the lack of a visible and attainable career pathway. Our universities still face enduring difficulties with recruitment, with key posts left open and unfilled.
"The Dental Schools Council has started fulfilling its duty to sell academia as an attractive option, by showcasing high profile case studies such as Jimmy Steele's impact upon of dentistry. We must ensure the skill sets we are building into the next generation of junior clinical academics fit the needs of tomorrow's senior posts."