The Treasury has been urged to give tax breaks to dental nurses on costly training courses – because it is a 'big chunk out of their pay packet'.
A Labour MP tabled a Parliamentary question to push the case for extra help for nurses undertaking continuing professional development (CPD).
The General Dental Council (GDC) requires dental nurses to carry out 150 hours of CPD over five years, of which a minimum of 50 of these hours must be verifiable.
John Woodcock, Labour MP for Barrow and a former aide to Gordon Brown, intervened after a constituent warned it was costing her 'in the low thousands'.
In other professions, a lot of training is funded by employers, which makes it eligible for tax relief, prompting the constituent to complain that the treatment of dental nurses was 'unfair'.
Mr Woodcock told Dentistry: 'Professional development is vital both for dental nurses themselves and the patients they treat, so it is right that the GDC requires it.
'But, with many dental nurses having to pay for this training out of their own pockets, it’s a big chunk out of their pay packet.
'If the Treasury could find an affordable way to support professional development through the tax system, that would help hard-pressed dental nurses and send a strong message on the importance of a well-trained workforce.'
However, in reply to Mr Woodcock’s question, Treasury minister David Gauke wrote: 'The government is committed to the simplification of the tax system.
'New tax reliefs add complexity to the tax system and have a cost to the Exchequer, which the government has to balance against its other objectives.
'The government therefore has no current plans to introduce tax relief for the cost of compulsory continuing professional development.'
Meanwhile, the GDC argued that some CPD could be 'done for free' and that dental professionals were in a 'strong position' to find the best deals.
It said: 'The provision of CPD is a competitive business and dental professionals are in a strong position as the customer.
'If registrants are unhappy with the quality of CPD which they have paid for – or accessed for free – they should send feedback to the provider.
'When providing verifiable CPD, providers should be actively seeking feedback anyway, so registrants should make the most of this opportunity and get their voice heard.
'Reputable companies will respond to feedback and complaints by improving their products.'
By parliamentary correspondent Rob Merrick