Recently I gave full backing to an e-petition on the HM Government website launched to guarantee funding or places for all new graduate foundation dentists. The details of the petition which already has over 3000 signatures can be seen here. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/4030
All new dental graduates are supposed to be given a training place in a practice in the first year after graduation. In fact a few years ago in response to a shortage of NHS dentists, the government created an additional 77 new dental places by opening two new dental schools, UCLAN and Peninsula. However last year 35 new graduate dentists ended up without a training place job. I cannot imagine how desperately demoralising and shattering this experience must have been for these new graduate dentists.
In 2005 the Chief Dental Officer giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons stated that it cost the taxpayer around £250,000 to train each student dentist. That was seven years ago. Last year we had 35 dentists unfunded. If you add that all up in today’s money, that makes a figure of £9 million wasted last year with 35 unemployed dental graduates – a frightening sum. On top of that these students are leaving universities with levels of debt approaching £50,000. If last year’s state of affairs is duplicated it will be heartbreaking for new graduate dentists and a waste of time and money for the taxpayer. Because completion of Dental Foundation Training is a prerequisite for newly-qualified dentists wishing to provide NHS care, these individuals will be disqualified from caring for NHS patients.That surely cannot make sense.
Here at Langley Dental Practice we have been a training practice for seven of the past eight years. It is one of the most rewarding experiences that we get in dentistry to watch and train a new graduate and see them mature over a 12 month period of training and mentoring into a competent caring associate able to practice independently. I feel that by signing this petition I am showing that what has happened this year is unacceptable because the government has squandered taxpayers’ money and betrayed those who have strived hard to pursue a career providing NHS dental care.
I was a nominated finalist in the Dental Defence Union “Trainer of the Year” award in 2007 for my efforts in training and mentoring newly qualified dentists. Trying to find your first job in the run up to your final dental examinations must be an extremely stressful experience. To go through a difficult complicated application procedure and rigorous interview process, only not to be allocated a place must be extremely demoralising and distressing. To make matters worse we now have a large influx of new European Union graduates where the economy has hit a downturn who do not even have to do foundation training yet some of them have actually got places on the foundation training scheme.
We know that the government has to make cutbacks and that we live in an era where difficult choices have to be made. However it is a crazy state of affairs that the NHS invests £250,000 in training a new dentist only for that dentist not to be able to find a job within the NHS. I support this e-petition for full funding for foundation dental places and I urge the government to make sufficient funds available for all dental foundation training places as a matter of priority.