Steep increase in demand for dental hygienists and therapists predicted

shutterstock_214143640New research from CfWI (Centre for Workforce Intelligence) has indicated a likely steep increase in demand for dental hygienists, dental therapists, orthodontic therapists and dental nurses over the next 10 years.

The research titled Securing the future workforce supply: Dental care professionals stocktake was jointly commissioned by Health Education England (HEE) and the Department of Health (DH) and provides an evidence base for planning the future dental care professional (DCP) workforce, looking ahead to 2025.

This increase in demand for the above disciplines is matched with an undersupply in three of these DCP workforces (dental hygienists, dental therapists and dental nurses).

The research also forecasts a slight oversupply of orthodontic therapists if this workforce were to continue to expand at the same rate.

Supply forecasts are based on increased utilisation of DCPs in the future.

Overall, the research suggests that DCPs could provide a significantly greater share of the future dental care workload (between 18 and 25% more than today) by 2025, provided there is a ‘concerted effort’ from across the system to support further utilisation of the DCP workforce.

The CfWI suggests that:

  • It would be sensible to continue to monitor and review the demand and supply of the DCP workforce, whilst considering any system changes (eg training and local needs) that may affect their balance
  • A review of the dentist and DCP workforces as a whole every three years coupled with on-going monitoring would help to ensure the impact of any intervention and emerging risks can be appropriately tracked
  • To improve the quality and robustness of future modelling, it would be helpful to the system to conduct a survey on General Dental Council (GDC) registrants to gain more data on participation rates of the DCP workforce.

This work builds upon CfWIs earlier report, A strategic review of the future dentistry workforce: Informing dental student intakes, published by the CfWI in December 2013.

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