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New workforce data must drive new approach to tackling crisis in NHS

The British Dental Association has responded to changes to NHS England’s workforce data collection, stressing new numbers must underpin effective strategies for easing the crisis in NHS dentistry.

Traditional approaches have counted heads, not commitment, giving a dentist doing one NHS check-up a year the same weight as an NHS full-timer.

In England NHS dentist numbers are over 500 down since lockdown, but BDA surveys indicate over half of dentists have reduced their NHS commitment since 2020, a movement going unseen in official figures. NHS England will now be seeking data bi-annually on headcount, NHS contracted hours, as well as vacant posts. More detail on the new approach is available here.

Shawn Charlwood, Chair of the British Dental Association’s General Dental Practice Committee said:

“Clearly any new paperwork will create some administrative burdens for practices. And that is precisely why we need to see these figures put to work.

“This data needs to start driving effective decision-making across dentistry.

“Used appropriately it can show where the real ‘dental deserts’ actually are. It must support evidence-based workforce planning and illustrate the real pressures practices are under.”