Maintaining an effective workforce

15 March, 2024

The first of the Dental Leadership Network (DLN) events of 2024 took place on Thursday 14 March at Friends House, Euston, London.

The core purposes of the DLN are to build relationships across the dental sector, identify and agree shared challenges, and take organisational and collaborative responsibility for addressing the issues dentistry faces.

The theme of the well-attended day was Maintaining an effective workforce fit for the future. Throughout the varied programme, delegates from across the UK made use of Slido to express views, ask questions of speakers and panellists, and respond to polling.

A welcome contribution was made by Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive and registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). It was interesting to hear some common themes from a sister regulator, including the evidence from NMC's leavers' survey that shows that many of those who have left the nursing profession did so earlier than they would have expected. 

A presentation highlighted the technological advances in and market growth of dental laboratories alongside the significant workforce challenges arising from the forecast that around half of dental technicians will retire over the next five years. 

A lot of interest was shown in an update from the GDC following the very recent release of the first tranche of data from the working-patterns survey of dentists. This provides rich insight for the first time into the number of hours worked by dentists, the NHS/private mix, and the balance between clinical and non-clinical work. A similar survey of dental care professionals will be undertaken later this year as part of their annual renewal of registration.

A second GDC presentation focused on the DHSC consultation on the proposed introduction of provisional registration of internationally qualified dentists. It was stressed that the detailed development and implementation of any such scheme will require active participation from across the dental sector and the four nations of the UK.

The day concluded with a panel discussion and questions from the floor about the NHS England Dental Recovery Plan, including contributions from the BDA, the British Association of Dental Therapists, and Jason Wong, interim CDO England. Closing remarks and thanks were delivered by Malcolm Smith of the DLN working group. 

The next meeting of the Dental Leadership Network will take place in London on Wednesday 12 June 2024.