Dental professionals head for Brexit exit
Research shows eight in 10 of EEA-qualified dental professionals in
Almost a third of EEA-qualified dental professionals working in the UK are considering leaving the UK in the next few years, and of those intending to leave, more than eight in 10 said that Brexit and the uncertainty about arrangements for EU citizens living and working in the UK was a significant factor in their reasoning. However, more than half of those considering leaving said this might change if their EEA qualifications continue to be recognised in the UK.
These are the findings of new independent research commissioned by the General Dental Council (GDC) to help understand the potential impact of Brexit on the UK registers of dental professionals. Almost one in five UK dentists, and about the same proportion of new applicants to the professional register each year, have qualified in the EEA.
The large majority of respondents, 84 per cent, agreed that Brexit is leading to a shortage of healthcare workers in the UK, while 75 per cent agreed that it is leading to a shortage of dental professionals. On the back on the GDC survey, the British Dental Association has expressed deep concerns that the government has thus far been unwilling to engage on growing recruitment and retention problems.
Last year, BDA surveys indicated that more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of NHS practices in England who attempted to recruit in the last year struggled to fill vacancies. Half (50 per cent) of the NHS practices that attempted recruitment had reported issues in the previous year.
The BDA says that recent official data has shown morale among dentists has hit an all-time low, with lower levels of morale also linked to higher NHS commitments.
BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said: “Government has failed to even acknowledge the scale of the crisis that’s been facing dentistry for several years.
“Broken NHS contracts, rock-bottom morale and now Brexit are all taking their toll.
“The writing is now on the wall for too many European and UK-qualified dentists. Government needs to wake up and smell the coffee. NHS dentistry can’t be run without dentists.”
However, the GDC said it has seen no evidence of EEA-qualified dental professionals leaving the UK registers since the 2016 referendum, and said this trend continued in the December 2018 dentists’ annual renewal.
David Teeman, GDC’s Head of Regulatory Intelligence, said: “Exploring the intentions of people who are currently able to work in UK healthcare because their qualifications are recognised under EU legislation is essential.
“This research was undertaken before important issues have been resolved, such as recognition of qualifications, residency rights and access to the UK for existing and prospective dental professionals. Once these issues are settled, we are planning a further round of research, which will aim to provide us with increased insight and aid us in our planning. We recognise the information could be useful to others; for example, those involved in workforce planning, and will, therefore, be making it publicly available also.”