Profession calls for more positive messages about NHS dentistry

NHS dentistry

The latest NHS Confidence Monitor has called for greater support for dental professionals from the government and GDC

NHS dentistry should be conveyed more positively in the national press, according to the latest NHS Confidence Monitor survey results.

Dental professionals feel that more positive messages would help to improve the public’s perception and understanding of NHS dentistry and more than half of the respondents had ideas on how to improve the profession’s confidence in NHS dentistry.

‘What we have is a profession that feels the NHS contract is out of their hands, so I was not surprised to learn that dental professionals are concerned about public perception of NHS dentistry and their role within it, but it nonetheless saddens me,’ Tony Kilcoyne, dentist and practice owner, said.

‘As a dentist who is very involved with the media, I want to help to turn things around in terms of informing the public about not only just the problems in dentistry but also what dentistry has to offer the public with regard to general and dental health benefits.

‘We need to go large in the media so that the public can realistically appreciate what their options are and what can be done, preventively.’

Greater support

The NHS Confidence Monitor has called for greater support from the government and the GDC by better understanding what the dental profession is facing.

A third of respondents counted greater support from the regulator and the government as significant elements to improve the confidence between dental professionals.

The rest of the main findings from the survey included:

  • 90% of team members are less confident in the future of NHS dentistry overall than they were 12 months earlier
  • 84% of dental professionals are less confident about their career prospects within NHS dentistry than they were a year ago
  • 78% are worried about their ability to offer their patients the right balance of treatment versus prevention in times to come under the NHS
  • 88% have lost confidence that working within NHS dentistry will offer a fair level of remuneration in the future
  • 86% expressed concern that they will be able to work effectively within the NHS framework as time progresses
  • 76% are lacking confidence that patients will be happy with the outcome of attending an NHS dental practice in the future, when compared to 12 months earlier
  • 49% of dentists are looking to retire between the ages of 51 to 60, with a further 32% making plans to leave dentistry behind in their 60s
  • 69% of dental professionals would not recommend a career in dentistry to a friend or family member.

‘It is sad that public perception of the dental profession is negatively influenced by the ways in which contract restrictions adversely affect the care the dental team can provide to NHS patients,’ Professor Nairn Wilson, former president of the General Dental Council and British Dental Association, said.

‘I share the view that, despite being disillusioned, members of the dental team have a passion and unswerving belief in the effectiveness and importance of the oral healthcare provision they are capable of delivering.’

For detailed results from the last three surveys, as well as to gain access to the discussions from previous ‘Insights Panel’ meetings and interviews with panel members, visit



  1. 1

    I agree with the sentiment but the national media are there to highlight public interest stories, not pander to what we as a profession want.

    The reason there are so many stories like that of D’Mello is purely because there are so many dentists like D’Mello. He single handed routinely carried out >20,000 UDA’s per year, yet there is NO proactive means of regulation stopping this sort of behaviour whilst others get hammered by the GDC for the most questionable of offenses.

    Many bodies are there to regulate the profession(?) but who is out there to promote ethical dentistry? Absolutely no-one.

    Shameful IMO.


  2. 2

    Unfortunately a sentiment has grown up that the GDC is no longer fit for purpose and yet its principles and regulations are undeniable in the rightness of their ethical position. I would challenge any dentist of ethical persuasion to dispute this . A careful and thorough look behind the headlines and a detailed reading of cases reveals the GDC to be both careful and thorough in its dealings with registrants. Dentistry would do well to remain a self regulating profession. while I am not aware of the details I am aware that the NHS certainly identifies and investigates outliers in its system and that the gentleman concerned remains unsullied suggests no question as to the quality of work or personal conduct. There is far less regulation and almost no checks and balances for those working purely privately as to their preffered treatment modalities. NHS treatment should have a public image that equates with the trust imbued by additional scrutiny on those dentists working within it.

  3. 3

    Beg to differ. The GDC is the cause of most problems we have. what Neel says make sense…how can anyone work ethically and do 10,000 udas?? Sadly lack of accountability by managers and politicians have led us to this mess. NHS dentistry is a laughing stock in Europe. unlimited filling for a fixed , paltry sum???
    The GDC standards are overly prescriptive and too idealistic. It was voted the worst regulator and one can only weep at the future prospects of our profession. I have 3 brilliant sons and none of them entered dentistry and are well placed…

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