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Dental foundation training: change to preferencing timelines announced

The BDA has been advised by Health Education England and the National Recruitment Office for DFT (for England, Northern Ireland and Wales) that the preferencing of dental schemes will be delayed until the spring of 2021.

Message for DFT applicants and educational supervisors

Under normal circumstances, preferencing would have started on 8 December 2020.

Applicants and training practices should have received communications from the DFT National Recruitment Office (NRO) this week.

The change is due to the ongoing considerations about dental graduation timelines in 2021 caused by the effects of the pandemic on clinical training for the current year group. The Dental Schools Council (DSC) and individual dental schools are in communication with the GDC to look at the arrangements for graduation in 2021. The situation is likely to be much clearer in the first few months of 2021.

It is hoped that as many students as possible will graduate to begin Dental Foundation Training in September. In order to support students who may require an extension of clinical training in order to meet the requirements of their course, there is a possibility that there may be two start dates for dental foundation training: one in Sept 2021 and one in the first quarter of 2022, to ensure that those students whose undergraduate training may be extended do not have to wait until September 2022 to begin DFT.

DFT NRO will not currently know the number of places for each start time and have decided to delay preferencing to a later time when there is more clarity, to avoid insecurity and make the system workable. It should be noted that this year’s regional information of scheme geography will contain less detail than in previous years to help DFT NRO and the regions to have flexibility to plan for this process.

The National Recruitment Office understands that there are many unknowns at present and that this is a difficult year for applicants and training practices. The underlying intention of this delay to preferencing and the consideration around providing DFT in September 2021 and in early 2022 is the wish to support all dental students, training practices and dental schools through a situation that is uncertain, variable and difficult to plan for in detail until some of the necessary processes and numbers are clearer.

There will be further direct communication with applicants and training practices in due course, but any questions from applicants should be discussed with their dental school and student representatives, and training practices planning for the 2021 DFT intake should contact their training programme director or HEE office/deanery.

The above approach is not applicable to the arrangements for DFT in Scotland, which has a separate system.

Any members who feel stress or anxiety due to the current situation have access to mental wellbeing support through Health Assured.