Paul Adams discusses Brexit with Edmund Proffitt

Paul Adams (Dental Directory managing director) talks to Edmund Proffitt (head of the BDIA) about the impact of Brexit on dentistry.

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Direct access and more therapists are required to solve the staffing crisis in dentistry, Michael Watson says.

At the end of last week, the Home Office announced that doctors and nurses are to be excluded from the cap on skilled worker visas.

There will therefore be no restriction on the numbers of doctors and nurses who can be employed through the so-called tier two visa route – giving the NHS the ability to recruit more international doctors and nurses from outside the EU.

In case you were wondering whether ‘doctors’ might include dentists, it does not.

The Home Office statement did say though that the move ‘will also free up hundreds of additional places a month within the cap for other highly skilled occupations, such as engineers, IT professionals and teachers.

But again, no mention of dentists.

Recruitment issues
Also included are ‘leading fashion designers’ and applicants from the TV and film industry.

Good for doctors and nurses, who have great problems recruiting staff for the NHS, but equally so have dentists, especially now that recruitment from the EU has virtually dried up.

One thing we have to consider – all EU dentists are not affected by tier two visa applications, but they are not coming, partly because the pound sterling is down so the ability to send remittance home is reduced.

There is also the fact EU dentists genuinely came to the UK to make a home with their families, they are not going to come to the UK if they do not feel welcome and if there is no long-term future for them.

In addition, dentists from the Commonwealth, for example India, South Africa and Australia lost their dental qualifications having reciprocal status in 1997, so even if dentists from these countries where excluded from tier two visas like doctors and nurses, they still could not work in the UK.

Some say the solution lies with therapists, but according to the Government’s own Strategic Workforce Planning Group, to produce enough dental therapists to plug the gap would take 10 years.

In addition, without direct access, which does not exist in NHS dentistry, but does in private dentistry, dental therapists are not really a solution for the lack of an NHS dentistry workforce, which impacts on patient access.

This message is addressed to the whole world to stand up for the problems overseas dentists in the UK are facing. To get licensed in the UK as a dentist, one must pass the overseas registration exam (ORE). This exam constitutes of 2 parts that must be completed within the duration of 5 years after attempting part 1.

Every overseas dentist in the UK can stand up and support me in saying that the process to book part 2 of the exam is absolutely obscene. The exam is held 3 times every year. The opportunity to book the upcoming exam is available 6 weeks to 2 months before the exam and the time and date are provided to us for the booking to open 2 weeks beforehand. There are over 1000 candidates each time, sitting and waiting by their computer to press that “book” button on the website as it appears. only 144 seats are available for the exam and as can be expected the exam gets fully booked in less than a second.

I am absolutely sure such a system does not exist anywhere in the world. Even in the UK other professions like doctors are given more opportunity to sit their licencing exams. I believe this system is very stressful and may even be against some human rights.

I have personally attempted to book this exam 3 times in a row and have lost over 1 year just trying to progress with my career on the basis of getting this exam. I am being kept away from my family in UK and am unemployed and my license to practice in UK is withheld simply because of a button. My unemployment is affecting my credentials and making me an unfavorable candidate for any organization to hire. I have used a lot of time money and effort every time i have attempted to book and i am sure there are a lot of other overseas dentists out there like me and probably in a much worse position who are having their life kept at hold simply because of a button.


My solution to the problem may be that the general dental council could increase the number of seats available per exam and increase the number of times the exam is held per year to make the system more just and fair to all dentists in the world. Everyone deserves an opportunity to give this exam whenever they want.

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