A view from the Chair: Meeting the dental team and adding to the debate about access

01 June, 2022 by Lord Toby Harris
At the beginning of this month the GDC responded to the government’s consultation on international routes to registration where we welcomed all the proposals. It was a big moment as we’ve been working with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on their plans for almost two years.

We look forward to seeing the results of the consultation, especially as one proposal would allow us to develop more efficient routes to registration for people who qualify overseas and want to join the registers in the UK. 

The monthly registration reports which we publish only show the total numbers of people on the registers and not what their role is. Workforce planning is outside the remit of the GDC, and we know that it’s a complex area involving different interests from organisations in the sector. That said, it’s important to share information that can inform the discussion, which is why in a recent debate in the House of Lords I asked whether the government would support a study of the long-term requirements for the dental professions and specialties we need in the UK, such as the flow of people leaving and joining the profession, and the number of places available to study. 

Meeting dental professionals first hand 

We’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of opportunities to meet dental professionals this month. Several colleagues represented the GDC at the recent British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show in Birmingham, where they spoke to around 160 dental professionals over the two days. The most frequent questions were around registration, with people looking for practical information related to their circumstances. The next most frequent topic was perception of the GDC, ranging from light-hearted comments about being brave enough to come and chat to us to serious questions about perception of our role as regulator and how we communicate with the dental professions. 
Regardless of their question, people were positive about being able to ask questions and speak to people who work in the GDC. We also took the opportunity to catch up with stakeholders including the professional associations, indemnifiers and education providers, and we provided presentations to dental technicians and dental nurses.

A tour of education clinics

I had a tour of the clinics in the Queen Mary University in London this week, getting to see second year students practising on mannequin heads and fifth and postgraduate year students treating patients. 
It was really good to see dentistry up close and hear from the education team about the high expectations of dental patients and the opportunities for use of digital technology in dental education now and in the future.

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