The General Dental Council (GDC) is considering a mandatory period of provisional registration for all dentists wanting to join its register.
The idea is that, similar to a driving licence, all new dentists should spend a year with a provisional registration prior to achieving full registration once they’ve proved themselves.
According to the GDC, this provisional period would provide practical validation for the skills needed for practice outside of a training environment, and provide a consistent baseline from which to measure dental professionals’ ongoing fitness for registration.
The GDC is currently consulting on a Europe-wide basis so as to reflect the high percentage of dentists with an EEA qualification on the UK register.
Last year, 43% of the dentists who joined the register had an EEA qualification. When combined with other new registrants from overseas, this made UK graduates the minority grouping.
The Council decided that the issue of provisional registration should involve regulatory bodies in Europe because there are major implications for all dentists who are planning to move to work in the UK.
Validation and revalidation are new processes designed to demonstrate that dentists have been appropriately trained and continue to meet professional standards and also to introduce greater transparency to the regulation of the profession.
Currently, all new UK dentists who want to work in the NHS must carry out at least a year as a vocational trainee after they graduate, a role in which they work under the supervision of a dentist.
However, under European law, dentists from EEA countries do not have to carry out vocational training. Most dentists who have a qualification gained in an EEA country can move to the UK and start working here immediately they graduate while UK dentists – unless they are working exclusively in the private sector – must gain their vocational experience.
There are currently 5059 dentists on the register with an EEA qualification, most of whom will not have carried out a UK vocational training year.
Provisional registration will ensure that all new dentists, no matter where they have graduated, will have to spend a year under supervision before they have full registration.