Calls for answers over future of dental students in Scotland

Calls for answers over future of dental students in ScotlandQuestions have been fired at the government in Scotland following concerns over whether dental school students will graduate in 2021.

The British Dental Association (BDA) is calling on cabinet secretary for health and sport Jeane Freeman, and deputy first minister and cabinet secretary for education and skills John Swinney, to take action.

It also warns that dental students will be burdened with debt exceeding £40,000 if an additional year of study is required.

Potential shortage

Additionally, dental figures state changes will impact not only this year’s cohort, but the make up of the undergraduate intake.

They point to patient access as a potential problem, emphasising that graduate dentists are often given higher needs patients to maximise their clinical experience during their vocational training. It also voices fears over the long-term impact, warning that it may lead to fewer dentists entering the NHS.

As a result, the association is calling for a number of funding measures to offset the burden, including:

  • Emergency bursaries
  • Additional funding for dental schools, covering tuition schools were appropriate
  • Teaching grants and clinical placement funding
  • Support for NHS providers who take on trainee graduates.

Serious consequences

‘What dental students across Scotland really need now is certainty,’ said David McColl, chair of the BDA’s Scottish dental practice committee.

‘The Scottish government must offer a safety net. It must protect the next generation, support our universities, and secure the future of patient care.

‘Should these students be unable to graduate in 2021 it will have a serious impact on both the workforce and patients’ ability to access NHS services.

‘The pipeline of health professionals should not be left at risk. We need to see a plan that guarantees graduates aren’t saddled with unmanageable debt. It needs to keep schools viable, and ensure Scotland has the dentists it needs.’

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