Group tackles recruitment crisis
Clyde Munro launches series of initiatives to boost practitioner numbers
As the profession struggles to deal with the treatment backlog caused by COVID-19, one of its biggest challenges is recruitment. There has been a shortage of qualified dentists in the UK pre-dating the pandemic, traditionally met by attracting dentists from overseas. Previously EU citizens didn’t need a visa to work here, but new rules require them to comply with a points-based immigration system which presents new challenges for employers who need to provide sponsorship and offer full-time – rather than self-employed – posts.
The LDS/ORE/PLVE processes – which are a requirement for non-EU/EEA dentists to get an NHS performer number – were paused during 2020, resulting in a backlog of clinicians seeking a role within the NHS.
In Scotland, graduation has been delayed for a year, exacerbating the crisis. Underlying this is a disillusionment with NHS dentistry among practitioners, prompting many to seek alternative employment or, in the case of the more experienced, to retire.
It is a huge challenge across the industry and manifests itself in many ways which, for the greater benefit of patients, requires responsible and quick decision making. One example is Clyde Munro’s decision last month to review its patient list in one of its 62 practices where there was a challenge because of a lack of clinical resources.
For the greater benefit of the majority of the practice patients, and the stressful position the clinical and practice teams were operating under, it was decided that the only sensible option was to temporally reduce patient numbers.
For Jim Hall, the group’s founder and chief executive, it was one of the toughest decisions he has had to make. “But the decision was taken with patient care at the forefront,” he told Scottish Dental.
“If one or more dentists leave a practice, responsibility for their lists would fall on the remaining team. Given the huge pressure practitioners are already under dealing with the treatment backlog, this would put an unfair burden on them and – ultimately – would not be in the best interests of patients.”
Clyde Munro has launched a series of initiatives to tackle the crisis. It has appointed a lead for recruitment and launched a careers page on its website. As well as ongoing support for practitioners and their families in the process of joining the group, it is highlighting the investment it is making in the latest technology – including digital scanners – throughout its 62 practices, for both NHS and private patients.
It has also emphasised the lead it is taking on environmental sustainability and, through engagement with the profession at events south of the border, the benefits of living and working in Scotland. The group is also opening an academy in Perth, investing £500,000 in providing the latest training and continuing professional development.
“The more people we can attract into the profession, the more practitioners we can attract to Scotland – obviously, that is in the best interests of patients and our communities,” said Jim.