EU dentists four times more likely to be struck off

EU dentists

EU dentists four times more likely to be struck off, according to new figures from the Daily Mail

Dentists from the EU are four times more likely to be struck off than dentists trained in the UK.

Figures published by the Daily Mail after a Freedom of Information request show that over a third (37%) of the dentists struck off over the last three years qualified elsewhere in Europe, whilst dentists from abroad make up only 16% of the dental workforce in the UK.

The Daily Mail claims experts have pointed to the language barrier as a reason for more dentists being struck off from Europe, with the EU preventing checks on their ability to speak English.

We are committed to ensuring that only those dental professionals who demonstrate the necessary knowledge of the English language are able to treat patients in the UK,’ Ian Brack, interim chief executive of the General Dental Council (GDC), said.

Language checks

The GDC has received new powers to check the English language competence of any new dentist before they can practise.

Powers to check dentists’ and dental care professionals’ language skills came into force on the 1 April, meaning all applicants will now need to give evidence of their ability to communicate effectively in spoken and written English before being allowed onto the GDC’s register.

However, dental professionals who qualify in a country where English is the first or native language won’t routinely need to show any evidence about their knowledge of English.

‘Our standards make it very clear that written and spoken English must be of a standard that enables them to be able to communicate effectively with patients,’ Ian Brack continued.

‘We now have new powers to check the English language competency of any new dentist or dental care professional before they are allowed patient contact.

‘If they do not demonstrate the necessary competence, they will not be registered.

‘This change will help to assure the public the treatment they receive is provided by a qualified and trained dental professional who has sufficient knowledge of the English language to practise in the UK.’



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    Ian Brack may be interested in this paper

    The GDC would be far better off sorting out its own problems before trying to address other issues.

    Whilst a working knowledge of clinically related English is very important – this is just common sense – and there is no need to emphasise the obvious – excellence in training and the practice of dentistry this the most important issue of all. Everything else can be learned. One could argue that with the multiracial nature of British Society, possession of a second language is an advantage, as many patients in certain regions of the UK have very little skill in English or have skills that are difficult to understand.

    I would suggest that if an EU graduate, who is fluent in English, gets a placement in certain regions of Scotland, Northern Ireland and England, where rich regional dialects prevail, we can demonstrate the pitfalls of current simplistic language policy.

    We need to abandon the political correctness of regulatory foolishness and begin to understand the problems of manpower. We currently have a deficit of about 50,000 staff in the NHS and as more staff leave the NHS this is becoming unsustainable. The Royal College of Surgeons denies any shortage of dentists in the UK following an increase in dental school placements and an influx of EU Dentists and yet it appears that it can be very difficult to find an NHS Dentist is some parts of the country.

    When placing dentists in regions of the UK, who have passed the required exam in English, language skills gained may not necessarily reflect what is required in the front line.

    As an exercise I once wrote a complicated maxillofacial report in English and translated it with Google Translate into Danish (which I do not speak) and asked a Danish colleague for an opinion as to its accuracy – which I was advised – was very good.

    I have found voice translators very useful speaking to patients and staff both in the UK and abroad – and this helps in developing language skills. This technology needs to be used more especially in modern multilingual societies.

    So to be suçessful we need to move with the times, and, with proper management, English skills can be acquired.

    The GDC needs to stop trying to justify it’s own existence. In its current for its days are numbered.

    A very good friend of mine whose mother tongue is English – trained in dentistry in the United Kingdom and in Australia for Medicine. He came back to the United Kingdom to do a locum job and he was made to sit an English test ! Now this doctor was a native English speaker and had studied all his life in the English language obtained 2 degrees in the English language and was unable to register in England without sitting an English test. This is regulatory madness.

    It works the other way around as well. I applied for medical registration in Australia some years ago I was barred on the grounds of being unable to demonstrate English language skills despite having studied in English for my Secondary Education and to university degrees. The process of regulation is obstructive for the foreign graduate who is treated with little or no courtesy and definitely with no respect.

    So our regulators need to start living in the real world and adopt standards that approach common sense if they are to maintain any credibility with the General Public and theor Registrants.

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