The three posts this week seem to reflect the current state of British dentistry. A bubble in NHS practice prices (perhaps), possible changes in employment status of associates and now tales of un(der) employment. Add to this the mismanagement of FD1 place allocations and it’s apparent that NHS dentistry is in as much of a crisis as the rest of the NHS.
More than one-in-ten young dentists completing their vocational or foundation training may be experiencing difficulties finding permanent posts, newly-published research from the British Dental Association (BDA) suggests. Approximately 12 per cent of those completing their training last summer had not secured a role before its conclusion, the 2013 BDA Survey of Foundation Dentists and Vocational Dental Practitioners found.
For the second successive year a growing proportion of trainees in England and Wales who participated in the research reported that they were obtaining posts in primary salaried or hospital dentistry, although whether this is a trend or not will only be more reliably established by future surveys.
The research adds to concerns of potential employment problems in dentistry identified by the BDA’s 2013 Dental Business Trends Survey. That research found that more than 10 per cent of current Associate Dentists satisfied the International Labour Organisation criteria used by the Office of National Statistics to be classed as under-employed; wishing to work more hours and being available to start doing so within two weeks.
And it follows warnings by Health Education England and the Centre for Workforce Intelligence at the end of 2013 that a potential over-supply of between 1,000 and 4,000 dentists may occur in England by 2040 if the current number of places for dental students is not reduced.
Dr Judith Husband, Chair of the BDA’s Education, Ethics and the Dental Team Committee, said:
“This research suggests that employment opportunities in general dental practice are not as readily available as they once were for newly-qualified practitioners. In doing so, it adds to the evidence base that must be considered as recommendations to reduce the number of places to study dentistry are contemplated.
“As the BDA has warned, these decisions must be thought about very carefully, taking into account likely changes to the way NHS dental care is delivered and safeguarding the needs of patients. But they must also be responsible to the young people who choose to invest time, money and dedication to pursuing careers in dentistry, and the taxpayers who contribute to the cost of their training.
“These are difficult decisions that must be made, implemented and monitored with great care, and in dialogue with the profession and the academic institutions they will affect.”