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UK dental care for children - a specialist workforce analysis

Abstract

Introduction The main specialties involved with the treatment of children in the UK are paediatric dentistry and orthodontics. In December 2019, these accounted for approximately 38% of all specialists listed by the General Dental Council (GDC). Recent evidence of difficulties filling specialist NHS job posts and the absence of specialists in some UK postal areas suggests a demographic analysis of these specialties is timely.

Aims To gather data and help contribute towards assessing the need for future specialist training places by mapping GDC-listed specialists registered in UK postal areas and plotting specialists' first GDC registration dates.

Method The data were obtained from the GDC.

Results In ten years' time, approximately 40% (n = 92) of currently registered specialists in paediatric dentistry and 37% (n = 487) of specialists in orthodontics will be aged 60 years or over. Forty-four percent (n = 54) of 124 UK postal areas had no specialist in paediatric dentistry while 2% (n = 3) had no specialist in orthodontics.

Conclusion Demographic profiling can be compiled from data available to the public. This is likely to be of interest for those responsible for specialist workforce planning and funding NHS specialist dental care for children.

Key points

  • In ten years' time, approximately 40% of currently registered specialists in both orthodontics and paediatric dentistry will be 60 years or older.

  • Forty-four percent (n = 54) of postal areas in the UK have no specialists in paediatric dentistry, while 2% (n = 3) postal areas have no specialist orthodontists.

  • Although specialists in orthodontics outnumber those in paediatric dentistry by almost 6:1, the NHS struggles to fill senior posts in both specialties.

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank colleagues within the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry for their advice in the preparation of this paper. He would also like to thank the GDC for all their help. Finally, he is indebted to Caroline Holland for proofreading and significantly improving the original text.

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Correspondence to Robin W. Mills.

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Member of the British Orthodontic Society and the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry. No funding or other remuneration was received for this study.

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Mills, R. UK dental care for children - a specialist workforce analysis. Br Dent J (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-020-2218-y

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