Health CommitteeWritten evidence from the Dental Schools Council (ETWP 109)

Background

1.1 Dental schools are the UK’s centres of excellence in dental education and training and should be the first port of call for any inquiry into education, training and workforce planning. Dental schools are clear that only through the alignment of academic endeavour with patient care can service transformation and improved quality be brought about for patients.

1.2 The Dental Schools Council represents the interests and ambitions of UK Dental Schools as they relate to the generation of national health, wealth and knowledge acquisition through research and the profession of dentistry. Members are the Heads or Deans of the UK’s 18 Dental Schools.

Summary

Dental Schools are concerned that they might have been overlooked in the current structural changes. Whilst the original plan was for dentistry to be commissioned by the NHS Commissioning Board, no mention has been made of Dental Education.

Dental Schools work closely with their partner university medical schools and associated Trusts. It would seem natural to wish to see them working collaboratively within Local Education and Training Boards.

The Dental Programme Board has brought substantial improvements and should be retained.

Health Education England (HEE) should be established as a matter of urgency to avoid damage to local relationships through the establishment of “shadow” Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs).

HEE must relate to, and learn from, the Devolved Administrations.

LETBs must include Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) as full partners with the providers of healthcare in order to achieve excellent and innovative education and training and thus improved patient care.

Postgraduate dental deaneries and HEIs must be closely aligned, through honorary contracts and joint NHS/university appraisals.

The transformative potential of Academic Health Science Networks, and the equivalent in the Devolved Administrations, should be harnessed for education, training and research as well as service delivery.

The role of the GDC in curriculum development should be maintained. Curricula cannot be adapted piecemeal to meet local demands and the national regulator’s role in quality is vital.

Clarity is needed on the relationship between “outcomes” and “domains” in the NHS Education Outcomes Framework and effective metrics must be developed if it is to be of practical use.

Educational funding must be ring-fenced, must not be further diluted and should transparently follow the student.

There must be a reasoned approach to workforce planning which ensures flexibility, especially in higher training.

A properly resourced Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) (or equivalent body), working on behalf of HEE, should seek to develop long term plans based on realistic estimates.

Changes to the immigration system should not remove the attractiveness of working and studying in the UK due to the importance of: diversity of our dental students, the overseas educated workforce to the NHS and the need to retain global competitiveness.

The dental public health workforce needs clarity, stability and leadership to ensure it meets the challenges of health inequalities and an ageing society.

December 2011

Prepared 22nd May 2012