Specialists in paediatric dentistry ‘should be trebled’ to meet UK demands

Specialists in paediatric dentistry 'should be trebled' to meet UK demandsThe UK is significantly lacking specialists in paediatric dentistry, it has been suggested.

In a new report into the dental specialist workforce and its UK distribution, the team concluded that ‘stark inequalities’ exist throughout the country.

In response, the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) says the number of paediatric specialists in dentistry needs to ‘treble’ to meet the needs of children up to the age of 16.

Currently there are 227 workings specialists in paediatric dentistry across the UK.

Calls for specialist-led care

David Auld is chairman of the BSPD specialists’ branch. He believes urgent steps are needed to incentivise specialist training.

‘You can see clearly on the map created by the study’s authors that there are areas of relatively good access very close to areas with much poorer specialist to child population ratio, often in more remote areas,’ he said.

‘Children living in rural areas will have clinical needs just as children in urban populations do. Although the specific needs are not looked at in this study.

‘I hope that individual health boards and also regional NHS teams will look closely at these inequalities. They need to take action to improve access for children to specialist-led care where it is required.’

Further innovation

The BSPD believes appointing specialists to leadership roles in poor access areas will lead to a more developed workforce.

Urshla (Oosh) Devalia is honorary secretary, as well as a consultant in paediatric dentistry, at the BSPD. In some parts of the country, she said, specialists are handed a leadership role with a mission to support GDPs in rural practices.

However, more specialists are needed alongside more innovative models of care.

‘There is no shortage of dental graduates wanting to train as a paediatric dentist,’ she said.

‘But the recruitment system and the absence of collaboration between employers are barriers to developing the paediatric dental workforce.’

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