‘Pie in the sky’ – NHS publishes review into future of dental education

'Pie in the sky' – NHS publishes review into future of dentistryOral health should be integrated into a multi-professional model within NHS healthcare.

This is according to the latest Advancing Dental Care (ADC) report, published by Health Education England.

The three-year review looks to identify and develop a training programme within dentistry that leads to a multi-professional oral healthcare workforce.

Other points include flexible entry routes and using the skill mix better. For example:

  • Existence of oral health inequalities across population groups. Older, vulnerable people and deprived communities require targeted, or specialist, dental care
  • Better use of the skill mix of the dental workforce and multi-disciplinary team. Match patients’ needs to practitioners with the right level of qualification
  • Coordinate and distribute postgraduate training posts so they are better aligned in areas where the worst oral health inequalities exist
  • Flexible entry routes into training to widen participation and place more dental professionals in areas of need
  • Integrate academic training opportunities into every level of postgraduate dental training to guarantee the system has enough academics to deliver good quality research
  • Finally, more flexible options for qualified dentists and dental care professionals.

Fears of funding problems

While praising the report, some experts voiced concerns over funding and derailing the current working structures in place.

The British Dental Association (BDA) argues that while dental leaders were assured no posts would be reallocated, the report provided no guarantees.

It also raised worries over the financial modelling that supports the report and criticises the failure of its publication alongside the review.

Pie in the sky

Shareena Ilyas is chair of the British Dental Association’s education, ethics and dental team working group. She said: ‘While many of the ideas and ambitions set out are laudable, there is a tangible risk plans could destabilise services across England.

‘These trainees provide care to thousands of patients. “Redistributing” existing places will only mean moving young dentists from areas already struggling to meet demand.

‘All practices face huge and also competing demands. Any idea we can secure new training places without new funding is pie in the sky.

‘The numbers this report is based on have not yet been shared. As we move forward we need HEE to make openness the rule. And to also ensure dentists have a seat at the table.’

You can read the full report here.

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