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Hygienist registration delays raised with GDC

We have raised the issue of long processing delays in registration applications for dental hygienists qualified in the Republic of Ireland directly with the General Dental Council (GDC).

This delay is having a detrimental impact on practices across Northern Ireland.

Following the UK's withdrawal from the EU, Dental Care Professionals (DCPs) who have undertaken initial qualification training in the Republic of Ireland and who apply for GDC registration, regardless of whether they live in Northern Ireland or want to work in Northern Ireland must undergo an assessment process for overseas dental care professionals.

This 'overseas' process is taking in the region of a minimum of four months just to have applications looked at, and we understand potentially double that time for processing, at a time when the services of Hygienists are in such high demand and low supply.

This issue is of particular relevance to practices operating in Northern Ireland where, in the absence of local Hygienist provision, we are more reliant on individuals undertaking initial training in the Republic of Ireland. Hygienists are an increasingly important part of what practices can offer their patients. Therefore, it's vital that a more proportionate resolution can be found that reflects the unique situation here in Northern Ireland.

The GDC has responded to our letter stating hopes that forthcoming legislation will allow the GDC to adopt a more flexible approach that will, 'achieve the appropriate balance between the recognition of programmes of education delivered outside the UK, including the Republic of Ireland, and registration based on recognition of the qualification held by an applicant'.

The GDC has had problems with processing times of registration and restoration applications for some time. While the above article is specifically about an issue relevant to Northern Ireland, members should be reassured that we are also communicating with the GDC about any processing delays for dentist and DCP applications for registration and restoration, as well as the delays in specialist listings for assessed applications.