NHS dentistry

Internationally-trained dentists could boost the NHS workforce faster under new govt plans

The government is set to give the General Dental Council (GDC) the power to provisionally register dentists with overseas qualifications in a bid to cut red tape and improve access to NHS dentistry.

Qualified dentists from abroad with intent to work in the UK currently have to pass exams that can take years to complete, during which they cannot provide care for patients.

The government wants to streamline this process and ensure highly-skilled dentists can help the NHS as soon as possible.

Complete autonomy would be given to the GDC to set the parameters at which provisional registration is granted.

Anybody with provisional registration would have to work under a fully GDC-approved dentist.

Andrea Leadsom comment

The changes are subject to a three-month public consultation, which is set to conclude on 16 May. The consultation’s responses will help build the final legislation that will be laid before parliament for MPs to debate.

Dentists with qualifications from overseas make up approximately 30% of the GDC register. In 2022, 46% of new registrants were trained outside the UK.

The GDC’s executive director for strategy, Stefan Czerniawski, welcomed the government’s “openness to new ideas” for getting overseas dentists working in the NHS as quickly as possible.

“Provisional registration is an exciting opportunity that will require commitment and collaboration from across dentistry on the design and delivery of the new approach,” says Czerniawski.

“We need to move at pace, but we need to take the time to get this right – and we will work with stakeholders across the dental sector and four nations to do so.”

The move comes in the same month the government launched its £200m dental recovery plan, which NHS England believes could free up an additional 2.5 million appointments over the next year.

The need for evolution in the dental sector was highlighted late last year when the Nuffield Trust published a report that characterised the position of NHS dentistry as at its most perilous point ever.

Image credit: iStock

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