Is working in NHS dentistry like being in a pot of boiling water?

A bunch of frogs in a pot of boiling water trying to negotiate how fast the temperature is being turned up.

That’s the analogy Simon Thackeray, a dental practice owner, used to describe dentists working in the NHS.

It came up during a discussion with a panel of peers, including Eddie Crouch, Joe Hendron, David Houston, Paul Worskett, and Ros Keeton, held by Practice Plan to debate the state of NHS dentistry and the potential for future change.

Much has been said about who are, or should be, the drivers of change within dentistry – the government or the profession themselves.

There is also constant doubt around whether, with the issues across the wider NHS, it is realistically possible to implement positive change that would benefit dentists, patients and the government.

One thing that is known is that in April 2020, change will come in the form of the reformed contract, which will begin being rolled out to practices across England.

However, there still remains a lot of uncertainty around what exactly that will look like, how it will be done and the way it will impact different types of practices.

To try to answer some of those questions and help dentists prepare for the best way forward for them/their practice, Practice Plan is inviting them to attend a free event, ‘What Next for NHS Dentistry?’ where a panel of their peers will discuss the implications of the new dental contract.

The panel includes principal dentist Onkar Dhanoya, who is also chair of North Tyne Local Dental Committee, president of the BDA’s northern counties branch and senior vice-dean of the FGDP(UK), and Shiv Pabary MBE, a member of the GDPC Executive, Education Associate for the GDC, and local dental adviser to NHS England.

They will be joined by Louise Hunter, principal dentist and owner of a mixed practice, and Joe Hendron, the 2018 LDC Conference chairman and a practice owner who withdrew his practice from the prototype programme in an open letter to the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

It will take place from 6:15 pm – 8:30 pm on Wednesday 27 March at Durham County Cricket Club.

A similar event was held in Solihull in January and attended by around 100 dentists, many of whom were able to ask questions directly to the panel.


To book your free place at the ‘What Next for NHS Dentistry?’ event, click here.

For more information, contact: [email protected] or call 01691 684163.

Comments (1)

Direct access and more therapists are required to solve the staffing crisis in dentistry

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.

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