Proposed changes to NHS bursaries could see a drop in the number of DCPs being trained, according to the BSDHT.
These warnings come after the Government proposed scraping NHS bursaries for nurses, midwives and Allied Health Professional’s and replace with them with student loans, which it believes will save £800m a year.
‘This is a deeply concerning strategy, which will affect at least three dental schools and lead to a significant decrease in the amount of DCP clinicians qualifying each year,’ Michaela ONeill, president of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, said.
‘The cuts will lead to potentially dedicated, enthusiastic and knowledgeable dental hygienists and DHTs being unable to enter their chosen profession and potentially diminish the quality of health services on offer for patients.
‘At a time in which we are facing a staffing crisis in the NHS this decision makes very little sense and we should do everything we can possibly do to get the Government to reconsider the proposals.
‘If the proposals go ahead our profession will be facing huge staffing shortages and we also face the prospect of missing out on talented individuals entering the profession altogether.’
The BSDHT has claimed that these changes, to take effect for the 2017 academic year, will affect those from poorer backgrounds.
Dental care professionals that are not affiliated with a university will be unable to receive a student loan, during a time when the BSDHT believes the demand for dental hygienists and therapists is growing.
‘It is important to have a health service workforce that feels valued and this is not done by putting barriers in their way of succeeding in their chosen career,’ said Ms ONeill.
‘Without a bursary I am concerned that there will be a distinct lack of opportunity for people without the financial means to pursue their professional ambitions, and those that do will have to take on large amounts of personal debt to do so.
‘It’s not a very attractive proposition and the profession could be missing out on some talented individuals at the same time as being put under huge pressure due to understaffing.
‘Ultimately it will be patients who have to face the consequences of these cuts, they will potentially face longer waiting times and services from a healthcare system that is coming under serious strain due to understaffing.
‘There is a huge movement opposing the bursary cuts and the BSDHT wants DCPs to add their considerable voice to it to protect the future of our profession and the services provided to patients.’