College responds to the government's plans for NHS dentistry

16 February 2024

The College of General Dentistry (CGdent) has published its response to the government’s Dental Recovery Plan.

The updated statement from the college includes responses to the proposal to speed up entry to the NHS Performers List; to the idea of commissioning private-only practices to deliver NHS care; to the intention to press the GDC in relation to the recognition of additional qualifications as being equivalent to the UK BDS; to the intended expansion of the LDS, and to the plan to provide preparatory support for LDS candidates.

It also includes additional considerations in relation to the proposed ‘golden hellos’; to the creation of a provisional registration scheme; and to the increase in the number of dental school places.

A college spokesperson commented, “While we support in principle the NHS making use of available local capacity to provide much-needed dental care, the proposal to use private-only practices to do this would either fail or be completely iniquitous to those practices which have remained committed to NHS delivery. The correct solutions are to take measures to support the recruitment and retention of dental professionals in the NHS, and to support the financial viability of practices through adequate funding of contracts.

“We are already looking forward to an increase in the number of sittings and places for the Overseas Registration Examination, and we welcome the proposed expansion of the LDS examination. We also welcome proposals to support candidates in preparing for the LDS, and would advocate for similar support to be made available to candidates preparing for the ORE.

“We support the intention to speed up entry to the NHS Performers List, and the possibility of provisional registration, but public safety must not be compromised in our haste to fill gaps in the workforce. There must be proper structure in the training and assessment of provisional registrants, and a robust Quality Assurance process must be developed to ensure that the end product is a Safe Practitioner. Additional training and support may also be required for supervising dentists, as this role may well be more challenging than that of Educational Supervisor of Foundation Dentists.

“Similarly, we support the intention to identify non-EEA qualifications which meet the standard required for registration as a dentist in the UK, but due care and rigour must take priority in order to ensure patient safety. In time, this may prove a useful additional means of ameliorating the labour shortage experienced by dental practices, and the consequent lack of access to NHS dental care experienced by so many patients.”

The college added that the ‘golden hello’ scheme “also brings implicit recognition of the difficulties experienced by dental practices in the recruitment and retention of clinical staff to deliver NHS dental care.”

However, it is concerned that the “proposed short-term offer” may “fail to overcome many practitioners’ long-term concerns about embarking on a career in NHS care delivery, among which are burnout, lack of career progression and insufficient recognition for enhanced skills.”

Other members of the team should also be considered. The college argues the plan should explore “alternative models of incentivisation to support their recruitment and retention.”

“We are already looking forward to the increase in the number of dental school places available for dentistry, dental hygiene and dental therapy students,” said the college. “The planned expansion of student numbers must be accompanied by an appropriate increase in academic teaching capacity and resources so that the quality of undergraduate training is maintained.”

The college’s response is available in full at