The UK is facing a shortage of dentists. According to one report, there were 21,544 dentists in the UK at the end of January 2022, compared to 23,733 at the end of 2020.
The British Dental Association (BDA) found that 75% intend to reduce, or further reduce, their NHS commitment over the next 12 months when they surveyed dentists.
NHS Dentist Shortage News
Indeed, many stories of “dental deserts” have made the news in the early months of 2023:
- Around 5,000 adults face being deregistered from dental services in the south of Scotland.
- The Health Service Journal found that around £400 million allocated for dental care went unspent in 2022, due to a shortage of dentists willing to do NHS work.
- A community group in the west Highlands claimed that some people are facing 140-mile round trips to see dentists following the closure of a local practice.
For more, you can read our full guide to the NHS dentist shortage. This guide discusses some of the underlying causes of this shortage, and some of the initiatives that may address the shortage.
In this post we’ll provide an essential update on the situation through taking a closer look at the current figures for the number of dentists currently training and qualifying in the UK.
How Many Dentists are Operating in the UK?
The most up-to-date NHS dental statistics for England are from 25 August 2022. These figures reveal that 24,272 dentists performed NHS activity in 2021-2022, an increase of 539 on the previous year.
These statistics are from the NHS Dental Statistics for England 2021-22 and also show 26.4m courses of treatment were delivered in 2021-2022, an increase of 120% compared to the previous year.
These figures do not show the number of dentists currently training and qualifying in the UK. Though they suggest that the UK’s dental shortage seems to be improving, the figures only refer to England. And as we’ve seen, residents in rural areas, such as in Scotland, may still be living in “dental deserts” where they’ll struggle to receive treatment.
Also, if there are only 539 more dentists in England in 2021-2022 compared to the previous year, then the workforce may not have grown enough to meet the demand for treatment.
How Many Dentists are Training and Qualifying in the UK?
In August 2021, the government adjusted the cap to allow over 9,000 places on medical and dentistry courses for 2021 student intake. By September, Further Education News was already reporting a record number of applicants to dentistry courses at UK universities.
Yet by July 2022, the BDA were reporting a “larger than usual” decrease in the number of dental graduated accepting foundation training places.
In March 2023, the BDA revealed that half of all dentists have cut their NHS commitment “with more to come”. Unfortunately, no matter how many dentists are currently training and qualifying in the UK, all figures suggest that the NHS dental shortage will not be resolved anytime soon.
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We know that times are hard for dentists. We’re here to help in any way we can.
Whether you want to reduce turnaround times between procedures, improve infection control measures or minimise the risk of staff exposure to toxic chemicals, our experts can help you find the solution.