John Chope column

John Chope explains how an experienced dental nurse who doesn’t hold a formal qualification can become registered.


Is your nurse a grandfather?


A reader telephoned me recently very worried that, after the deadline date of the 30 July next year, many practices in her area could fall short of the GDC’s requirement permitting only registered dental nurses or those in-training to continue working. She said that many dentists could find themselves working illegally or staff could wake up to find themselves unemployed.

The discipline of the appointment book imposes a natural six-month frontier to the dental landscape – subject to NICE guidelines, of course. That is why, as the approaching deadline date of 30 July next year begins to emerge from the hidden horizon – just like the inexorable Omar Sharif astride his inexorable camel – many dental practices will be taken by surprise. And the concerns of my reader will no doubt be echoed up and down the country.

What my reader told me was that to her knowledge there are innumerable valued staff-members working as dental nurses, many of them part or occasional time, who simply haven’t a clue about the GDC’s plan for a fully regulated and registered dental nursing profession. These are dental nurses who are not qualified but are experienced employees and every one of them is right now entitled to apply to join the DCP register through the GDC’s grandfather scheme.

The grandfather scheme runs throughout the transition period which started on 31 July 2006 and comes to an end on 30 July 2008. It is aimed at DCPs including dental nurses currently working in dental practice and who are not qualified but, because of their experience, are invited to apply to the GDC for inclusion in the DCP register. Unless they apply before 30 July 2008, they will lose forever the right to call themselves a dental nurse or work in that capacity without becoming fully qualified and applying for registration on that basis.

To find out how a nurse can become registered through the grandfather scheme, all you need to do is telephone the new GDC local rate number: 0845 222 4141 or look up their website: Click where it says ‘DCP registration’ next to the ticking clock and scroll down to ‘registering on the basis of experience’ and click on ‘transitional arrangements for dental nurses and dental technicians.’

Here it states that four years experience during the last eight or the part-time equivalent is needed for registration now. If there is only between two and four years experience, it is still possible to register so long as there is competence in the six basic areas (or modules) of: cross-infection control, CPR and medical emergencies, health and safety, ionising radiation, working with dentists and patients and CPD. All that is required is confirmation of competence from a registrant such as the dentist who has experience of the nurse’s work.

If there are any gaps in knowledge or experience, a certificate of completion of a relevant Access to Registration Training (ART) module is needed. ART is a GDC approved CD-ROM programme of training designed to help experienced nurses top-up their skills in their own time. All NHS practices received a free copy of the CD over a year ago. If your practice has lost its copy, a replacement CD which covers all the modules can be obtained for just £5 from the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Postgraduate Deanery at 7 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 2DD – tel: 01207 415 3400 or e-mail:

For those who would rather attend a course to top-up their training, there are six centres where ART courses are offered throughout the country and these are also listed on the GDC website. The courses that I contacted make no charge other than for refreshments.

And if, instead of training, a straight-forward multiple choice exam is preferred, this is called an Access to Registration Assessment (ARA) which costs £25. Details are available from the National Examination Board for Dental Nurses, 108-110 London Street, Fleetwood, Lancashire FY7 6EU tel: 01253 778 417 or e-mail:

Personally, I can’t recommend being a grandfather too highly – so if your nurse could be one and isn’t, please do something about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Might Also Like