A reduction in the number of undergraduate dental student places at UK institutions was proposed today.
The proposal follows the publication of new reports by Health Education England (HEE) and the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) estimating an over-supply of between 1000 and 4000 dentists by 2040 if the number of places is not reduced.
The BDA was quick to respond warning: ‘Any reduction in seats must be considered very carefully to ensure that it does not harm patient care.’
A review of the dental workforce published in 2004 predicted that, without remedial action, a shortfall of practitioners of between 3,640 and 5,100 would be seen by 2011. That review was followed by increased student numbers at some dental schools and the creation of new postgraduate-entry institutions. Recent years have seen a significant increase in the number of patients accessing NHS dental care as a result.
The reports also stress the importance of regularly monitoring the impact of any intervention and keeping the dentist and dental care professional workforces under regular review.
Dr Judith Husband, Chair of the BDA’s Ethics, Education and the Dental Team Working Group, said: ‘The conclusions of HEE and CfWI must be carefully considered and pragmatic, sensible decisions taken about any changes to student numbers’.