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Ten years on: an online questionnaire evaluation of the UK special care dentistry specialist workforce

Abstract

Aims To provide information on the demographics and work patterns of the UK special care dentistry (SCD) specialist workforce.

Design A self-administered electronic questionnaire.

Setting All UK-based SCD specialists on the membership of the British Society for Disability and Oral Health and the British Society of Gerodontology.

Materials and methods An electronic questionnaire was distributed to a potential 301 SCD specialists. Responses were descriptively analysed.

Results One hundred responses (33%) were received. The majority of respondents were female (74%) and/or of white ethnicity (86%). Three-quarters (78%) were based in England and a third (37%) were based in South East England. Two-thirds (66%) worked in the community dental service. Forty-eight percent work part-time and 32% have had a career break. Forty-three percent are planning to retire by 2026 and approximately half (53%) plan to retire by 2031. A significant minority (44%) do not feel appropriately paid.

Conclusions Workforce planners should anticipate the impact on specialist provision due to a combination of a predominantly female workforce with associated working patterns, an anticipated loss of numbers and experience, and the effect financial dissatisfaction may have on attracting trainees. Efforts should be made to increase racial diversity.

Key points

  • Special care dentistry specialist services are provided by a predominantly white and/or female workforce.

  • Approximately two-fifths of respondents plan to retire within the next five years, losing provision and experience from the workforce.

  • Forty-four percent of respondents are dissatisfied with their pay scale, given the work they undertake.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the BSG and the BSDH for allowing and helping us to distribute this survey to members.

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Correspondence to Stephen Woolley.

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Woolley, S., Lau, W. Ten years on: an online questionnaire evaluation of the UK special care dentistry specialist workforce. Br Dent J (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-021-2946-7

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