The British Dental Association (BDA) has warned that action must be taken to prevent a repeat of this year’s foundation training fiasco.
In 2012, a total of 35 UK graduates were not allocated Foundation training places.
Next year 1,139 applicants will be competing for the estimated 952 funded training places in NHS practices that will be available.
1,026 of the applicants are current students at, or recent graduates from, UK dental schools.
As many as 187 recently qualified graduates will not only be unable to access this training, but will also be unable to work in the NHS. The cost to taxpayers will be £37.4 million; the cost to these young dentists incalculable.
I have had it explained to me ad nauseam that EU rules do not allow Foundation Training to be restricted to UK graduates.
What no one has explained is why the training is needed to obtain a performer’s number, without which a dentist cannot practise in the NHS.
If you are an EU graduate you get given a number automatically. If you are a hygienist or therapist you don’t need a number to practise dentistry in the NHS. It is only if you are a UK graduate that you need Foundation Training. It is discriminatory. It is wrong.
The BDA should be running a public campaign against this iniquity. The MPs of the 35 who missed out this year should be badgering ministers.
A test case of judicial review of this decision should be started, if only for the publicity it would bring. The anti-EU media should be alerted to the waste of public money caused by inflexible Brussels regulations.
Twenty years ago at the BDA I was at the centre of a parliamentary and media storm over the fee cut. It succeeded only in halving the fee cut, but it sure got through to MPs, the media and the public that dentists were being hard done by.
I despair at the lack of a similar campaign by the BDA now.
Michael Watson, news correspondent