Julian meets with Association of Dental Groups to discuss how we ‘Fill the gap’ in the dental workforce
February 1, 2024
As part of his ongoing work to address the issues facing NHS dentistry, Julian met with the Association of Dental Groups to discuss the gap in the NHS dental workforce.
Access to NHS dental care in York and North Yorkshire is a significant challenge and has only been exacerbated over the last year by the closure of one dental care practice and the intentions of another to cease NHS services. Julian has been engaging with successive Ministers for Primary Care and Public Health, along with the Integrated Care Board (ICB) on a variety of issues within the NHS dental care sector, including the need for urgent workforce reforms.
There is plain and simply not enough dentists working within the NHS, despite more dentists being in training, the attraction of the private sector has drawn many away from pursuing a career in the NHS. At the moment, demand is far outstripping supply, which has only been exacerbated by the fact that many people did not see a dentist during the pandemic as they were unable to do so. This is something we need to grapple with as a matter of urgency.
Julian is eagerly awaiting the Dentistry Recovery Plan which he has been assured by the Minister for Primary Care and Public Health, The Rt Hon Dame Andrea Leadsom MP, which will seek to alleviate pressures and transform access to the service.
This event was a great opportunity to for Julian and his Parliamentary colleagues to further dive into the crux of the issue and to commit to ensuring that everyone across the country has the access to dental care.
It is warmly welcomed that positive steps have been taken by the Government so far to increase the recruitment of NHS dentists, including last year where action was taken to reduce barriers to overseas dentists being able to register with the NHS. Additionally, the Government’s endorsement of the NHS’s first ever Long-Term Workforce Plan is a welcome step, and it is expected that undergraduate training places will be increased by 40 per cent so that there are over 1,100 places by 2031/32. In aid of this bold objective, the Government intends to expand places by 24 per cent by 2028/29, brining the overall number that year to 1,000 places.
While it is great to see the steps being taken to secure the long-term sustainability of NHS dental care, it is important that we secure some short-medium term wins that offer an immediate solution. We have to accept that while we must take steps to increase the UK’s long-term recruitment for dental care domestically, this will take time. Subsequently, there is an urgent need to not only maintain overseas recruitment, but also significantly expand it. Julian agrees with the recommendation made by the GDC that the Government brings forward reforms enabling the GDC to approve overseas diplomas equivalent to the standards approved by the Overseas Registered Exam (ORE) to speed up the recruitment of overseas dentists, as well as looking at new mutual recognition schemes.
Following the event, Julian commented
“I was really pleased to have the opportunity to attend this important drop-in event in Parliament to discuss with representatives from the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) the urgent need to tackle the workforce crisis we are witnessing in NHS dental care.
“Improving access to NHS dental care, as many know, is one of my top priorities, and a large part of that is addressing the chronic shortage of NHS dentists.
“There were some great recommendations made, primarily the need maintain and expand overseas recruitment to ensure that there is sufficient supply to deal with demand in the short-medium term, along with ensuring that through the Long-Term Workforce Plan we have a sustainable service that enables everyone to see an NHS dentist.
“These insightful conversations are, I hope, the first of many between myself and the GDA, and will inform me for my next meetings with local dentists, the Integrated care Board, and the Minister”.