Dental student intakes 2013

The CfWI worked to inform student intakes at dental schools from 2014 in a dental workforce review, which was commissioned by Health Education England (HEE) through the Department of Health contract.

The 2013 review supports the provision of an appropriate supply of trained dentists up to 2040 and will see us working collaboratively with key dental stakeholders, interested parties and partners to source the latest dental workforce data.

The CfWI’s principal projection and baseline used in this report has identified that in both the principal projection and baseline, the supply of dentists is forecast significantly to exceed expected future demand. Therefore it is likely there will be a surplus supply of dentists in the future, ranging between 1,000 and 4,000 dentists by 2040 across both the principal projection and the baseline.

The report offers three suggested options as detailed below:

  • Intervention is recommended to bring the future supply and demand of dentists into balance. Given the risk of an oversupply of dentists in the future, it would be prudent to implement changes to student intake that will maximise effectiveness from education and training. This would help to avoid the potential under-employment risks and unnecessary public expenditure that may accompany oversupply in the workforce.
  • Ongoing monitoring and regular periodic review of workforce supply and demand are needed. In line with the recent HENSE recommendation (DH, 2012), the CfWI recommends a review of the future dentist workforce and student intake every three years along with annual monitoring, to ensure the impact of any intervention can be tracked, as well as to ensure that emerging risks or unintended consequences are identified.
  • Also important is that there is a continued drive to improve dental workforce data. To improve the quality and robustness of future modelling, the CfWI propose working with the General Dental Council, the Health and Social Care Information Centre and other data providers to plug any significant data gaps and improve the quality of dental workforce data. Progress would be reported as part of the annual monitoring report. It would also be advisable for a dental workforce census to be undertaken before the next review of dental student intake in three years.

Next steps

Following this review, the CfWI has worked closely with HEE to conduct a workforce review of the multi-professional dental workforce, to focus on dental care professionals. This will enable HEE to develop its strategic position on the multi-professional dental workforce in time for the next few annual planning rounds (i.e. from 2015 commissioning onwards).

This review builds on work from 2012, when the CfWI was commissioned by the Department of Health (DH) at the request of the Health and Education National Strategic Exchange (HENSE) to undertake a review of medical and dental student intakes in England.

The HENSE review group’s 2012 recommendations included the following.

  • There should be no immediate change to dental student intakes.
  • There should be no immediate change to the level of the overseas ‘caps’ for dental student intakes, but the ‘caps’ should be kept under review and decisions informed by the outcomes of continuing work by the four UK health departments.
  • A rolling cycle of reviews of medical and dental student intakes should be established, to be undertaken every three years.

This new work assists HEE, the DH and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to make further decisions on future medical and dental student numbers in England.