Righting wrongs

One of the most interesting debates at last Friday’s LDC Conference was proposed by Ian Gordon. It was one of several he proposed, but it concerned foundation training (FD) formerly known as VT.

His proposal was simple, next year’s recruitment exercise should be postponed at least until the results of finals were known. There should also be a thorough-going investigation into what was a flawed process. What surprised me was that two dentists, admittedly involved in the process, should have opposed a very reasonable motion.

This summer more than 100 dental undergraduates will not only have the stress of finals, but also know that even if they qualify, they may be denied an FD place which could, in turn man that they can never, ever, practise dentistry in the NHS. Without an FD place they cannot obtain a performers number, end of subject.

Yes there are enough FD places for all that qualify from UK dental schools, but others, from the EU, can apply for them. But these can get a performers number on the basis of their EU qualification, without having to do the extra training. You can also work in an NHS practice as a hygienist or therapist without doing FD.

Ian Gordon explained the selection process, pointing out that the difference between success and failure depended on the subjective assessment in a 20-minute interview. Your progress over a five-year course could not be taken into account. The score of a ‘winner’ or a ‘loser’ was barely detectable, but on that depended your ability to work in the NHS.

Those who opposed the motion said that EU law meant that any dentist across Europe could apply for the course. Fair enough. But if I were, say, a Hungarian dentist I have the right to work anywhere in any EU country, including the NHS in England, with nothing more than my basic qualification.

But if I am a UK qualified dentist, I have the right to work anywhere in the EU, except in NHS England, unless I have passed the FD course. That is what is wrong. That is what should be challenged in the courts. The BDA should do this.


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