Glossary of terms and abbreviations

    BDA – British Dental Association – The national professional association for dentists, which provides a wide range of services for those working in all branches of dentistry.

    CPD – Continuing professional development – This is a requirement of registration with the General Dental Council, as part of its Lifelong Learning initiative. Dentists must complete 250 hours of CPD activities over a five-year period.

    CSA – The Central Services Agency. Equivalent (in Northern Ireland) to the NHS BSA in England and Wales.

    EEA – European Economic Area – This includes all EU member states, and certain other non-EU countries.

    EU – European Union, of which the UK is a full member.

    FGDP (UK) – The Faculty of General Dental Practice. The collegiate home of UK general dental practice, which provides training, conducts examinations, confers diplomas and generally furthers the development of knowledge and skills amongst general dental practitioners.

    GDC – General Dental Council – The UK regulatory and registration body. All registered dentists must pay an annual retention fee (ARF) to the GDC, not later than 31 December of each year. The GDC also registers dental care professionals.

    GDS – The General Dental Services. The provision of dental care and treatment in general dental practice, as part of the National Health Service. All such treatment is governed by the NHS (GDS) regulations, which draw the statutory powers from an act of parliament (The NHS Act).   

    GPT – General professional training. A post-qualification period (24 months) of structured and supervised further training in both general dental practice and secondary care (hospital) settings. A VT certificate is issued upon completion of the two-year programme. It is being developed into Foundation Training (FT).

    HB - Health Board (Scotland and Northern Ireland). Broadly equivalent to PCTs in England.

    IELTS – International English Language Testing System. This is an independent measure of one’s ability to communicate in the English language. Run by the British Council, the test can be taken in most countries and is a requirement for application to sit the IQE, and for entry to an NHS performers list.

    LHB – Local Health Board (Wales). Similar to PCT in England.

    NHS BSA – the NHS Business Services Authority. Its dental services division deals with the regulations and payments to NHS dentists. 

    NHSPA – The NHS Pensions Agency. Based in Fleetwood, Lancashire, this agency handles all aspects of NHS superannuation/pensions.

    ORE – Overseas Registration Examination. This is a standard examination administered by the GDC, to confirm and demonstrate the level of knowledge and skill possessed by non-EEA graduates.

    PCT – Primary Care Trust. A local health authority with responsibilities for ensuring the availability for healthcare (including primary dental care) to patients living within a specified geographic region. There are about 130 PCTs (health boards in Scotland and Northern Ireland). General dental practitioners under a contract with a PCT provide NHS treatment within the rules and regulations and arrangements of the GDS.

    PCO – Primary care organisation. A general term covering primary care trusts in England, local health boards in Wales and health boards in Scotland and Northern Ireland

    PDS – Personal Dental Services arrangements, under which a practice provides NHS dental care which is nearly identical to GDS but does not necessarily include a requirement to provide the full range of dental care. Where the practice only provides sedation or orthodontics for example, the agreement will be PDS rather than GDS. PDS agreements are also fixed-term and may not be renewed if the PCT/LHB does not wish to do so.

    Performers lists – PCO-held lists of dentists who can perform NHS dental services. All dentists who wish to treat NHS patients in England and Wales have to be included on a Performers List.

    SDPB – Scottish Dental Practice Board.  Based in Edinburgh, it is the equivalent (in Scotland) of the NHS Business Services Authority Dental Services Division.

    SPDCS – Salaried Primary Dental Care Service – operating in parallel with the GDS, it consists of a large number of NHS trusts and special authorities, providing specialist care for children and those with special needs (including adults). The local PCO commissions services locally.

    VT – Vocational training. A post-graduation period (of twelve months) of structured and supervised formal training in general dental practice. It includes 30 days of formal learning and development in a peer group setting away from the practice. Upon the satisfactory completion of VT, a VT certificate is issued by the postgraduate dental deanery, enabling the dentist to apply for inclusion on an NHS performers list. Equivalent VT arrangements exist for the SPDCS and the armed forces.