General Dental Council publishes dental workforce pattern data

13 March, 2024 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

The General Dental Council (GDC) has today published data about the working patterns of dentists. It follows the regulator’s commitment last year to “play its part in supporting the sector to better understand workforce challenges and illuminate the public debate on the dental workforce”.    

 The GDC’s research has already shown that the dental workforce was under pressure and patients’ access to NHS dentistry was affected.

The regulator worked with stakeholders to understand the workforce information that would be of value to them. As a result of the feedback, the GDC asked a small number of additional voluntary questions. As part of their annual renewal, 25,159 (57 per cent) dentists responded to the work patterns survey, of which 24,152 (55 per cent) were working in the UK dental sector. 

This new data provides a firm foundation for better understanding how dentists are working across the UK

Stefan Czerniawski

The key highlights show that of the responding dentists: 

  • The majority (85 per cent) spend at least 75 per cent of their time in clinical practice, and a further 10 per cent say they undertake a mix of clinical and non-clinical work .
  • 19 per cent said they provided only private care, with no NHS care, and a further 14 per cent said they predominantly provided private care (taking up more than 75 per cent of their time).
  • Only 15 per cent are fully NHS, with no private care, and a further 27 per cent said they are predominantly NHS (more than 75 per cent of their time). 
  • 42 per cent said they were working 30 hours a week or less .
  • 38 per cent regularly work in more than one location .
  • 9 per cent are working as specialists .

The data includes information on the proportion of dentists who are providing NHS care and private care, whether they are working in clinical or non-clinical roles, and how many hours they are working.  The data was collected from dentists only. A similar exercise to collect work pattern data for dental care professionals (DCPs) is planned as part of the DCP annual renewal process later this year. 

It has been published at a UK level and has been broken down to an individual country level, where possible, to support workforce planning discussions across the four nations. Further analyses, including a more detailed picture of where dentists work, will be published later in the year.

The GDC believes that having a better understanding of how dental professionals are working throughout the UK will provide important insight into the issues affecting dental professionals and patients. 

Stefan Czerniawski, Executive Director, Strategy, said:  “We now know more about dentists’ working patterns than ever before. For the first time, there is now a rich picture of where dentists work, the balance between private and NHS practice, and the balance between clinical and non-clinical roles and activities, across the four nations of the UK.  

“I would like to thank every one of the 25,159 dentists whose data allowed us to build up this picture and all the organisations who helped us shape the questions and encouraged participation. This new data provides a firm foundation for better understanding how dentists are working across the UK.

“It provides important insights into the issues affecting dental professionals and patients.  We are confident that it will support planning and decision making by health services, governments, dental providers – and of course dental professionals themselves – to help ensure that patients get the care they need.  

“Later this year, we will invite dental care professionals to provide their data when they renew their registration, giving us a complete picture for the whole dental team.”

Tags: GDC / workforce

Categories: News

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