Calls for GDC to stop overseas dentists registering as hygienists

The dental profession is calling for GDC action on the registration of overseas dentists as hygienists and therapists without any practical assessmentDental organisations are calling for the GDC to suspend a registration route for overseas dentists.

In a joint statement, the British Association of Dental Therapists (BADT) and British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) are lobbying all members of the GDC in a bid to kickstart an urgent discussion.

Currently, dentists trained overseas, outside of the EEA, are able to register as dental hygienists and therapists in the UK. There is no requirement for a practical assessment of their ability to diagnose and treat dental disease.

Upmost urgency

According to the statement, there has been a 300% increase in this route to registration since 2017. The route requires no overseas registration exam (ORE).

As a result, the organisations are urging the GDC to suspend the registration route and ‘treat this matter with the upmost urgency’.

‘We, the BADT and BSDHT, advise all members of council that this route to registration presents risk of serious harm to patients. This is because of the lack of a practical skills assessment,’ the letter states.

‘We strongly feel that the mapping of learning outcomes carried out by the Registration Committee is woefully inadequate.

‘We do not accept representation by GDC executive arm that a lack of evidence of harm being caused by these individuals demonstrates the above is a safe route to registration as a dental hygienist and dental therapist.’

Obvious risk

Additionally, it states: ’13 of the 15 tests applied at an ORE are applicable to the scope of practice of dental hygienists and dental therapists.

‘Various Freedom of Information requests that have been shared publicly clearly demonstrate that around 50% of those taking the ORE fail at the practical assessment stage.

‘We say this is evidence enough. There is an obvious risk to patients coming to permanent harm should these individuals go on to register as dental hygienists and therapists.’

Challenge to prioritise

This comes as the dental profession speaks out in response to plans to scrap Public Health England (PHE).

Robert Witton is a consultant for PHE and chief executive of Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise CIC. He voiced worries over the nation’s oral health and the impact the plans could have.

‘It’s been a challenge to prioritise dental public health pre-COVID,’ he said.

‘So for me, there’s a real risk the public health workforce will deplete even further. We don’t really know the full impact of COVID or the impact that’s going to have on oral health inequalities. Or on access to care.’

He said it could potentially put the public health at risk when the full impact of COVID is unknown.

Additionally, the BDA called for ‘urgent clarity’ on the future of public health provision.

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