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Data from UK registry shows slight increase in number of dentists in 2022

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Despite the recent turbulence in dentistry brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of registered UK dentists remained stable this year. (Image: Zerbor/Shutterstock)

LONDON, UK: The General Dental Council (GDC) has recently announced that the number of dentists on the UK register remained stable after the annual renewal period and that the new figure is similar to that obtained in previous years. After removals, there were reportedly over 42,000 dentists on the register, a slight increase compared with last year.

According to a press release, 1,079 UK dentists did not renew their registration in 2022. This accounts for 2.56% of the total number of dentists who were registered at the end of December 2021. Over the previous four years, the average number of dentists who chose not to renew their registration was 2.96%.

Welcoming the data, GDC Chief Operating Officer Gurvinder Soomal commented: “Following such a challenging period in dentistry which continues for many, it is encouraging to see the number of registered dentists in the UK remain stable.”

The data identifies the total number of dentists registered in the UK. However, the GDC noted that it does not provide information on dentists’ working patterns or academic roles or reveal how many dentists are working in the National Health Service (NHS) compared with private practice.

The organisation also commented that, although the register is constantly changing, the number of registered professionals usually increases over the course of a year because of new registrations and then drops during the renewal period.

NHS dentistry and patient backlog

The NHS has been under constant pressure during the pandemic. According to data provided by the Department of Health and Social Care, around 1,000 dentists working in 2,500 roles across England and Wales ended their NHS contracts last year. Some chose to switch to private practice or to take early retirement. This year, dentists working in the NHS are required to deliver 20% more of their contract. Additionally, to boost vaccine uptake in England, dentists and their teams working in the private sector or in the NHS are legally required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by 1 April 2022. All of these conditions may result in thousands of dental professionals leaving or even closing their practices.

To help rebuild NHS dental services, address the backlog of patients and generate additional dental appointments, NHS England has recently announced that it will be providing £50,000 (~€60,000) in funding for dentists. The funding will be available until the end of March and will be paid on a sessional basis.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Shawn Charlwood, chair of the British Dental Association’s General Dental Practice Committee, said in a press release: “Until today not a penny of the government’s multi-billion-pound catch-up programme had reached dentistry. This is progress but must be just the start if we are to rebuild a service millions depend on.”

More information about the registration reports can be found here.

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