THERE is a “pressing need” for legal change to speed up the registration of dentists from outside the UK, the General Dental Council has said.
The pandemic has made a “flawed system worse”, the regulator said, with further complications ahead due to Brexit.
In a press statement welcoming a government consultation on healthcare regulation, the GDC said “the reforms that we need do not necessarily look to how professional regulation is organised.” Instead, it called for urgent action to address “outdated legislation” and to “free us from some of the very prescriptive rules which limit our ability to innovate and improve how we operate.”
The statement added: “We are calling for greater flexibility and a faster pace of reform so that patient safety and public confidence can be ensured through effective registration of all dental professionals.”
The regulator highlighted a recent blog by GDC executive director of strategy Stefan Czerniawski which called for reforms of the two-part Overseas Registration Examination (ORE) – a key element of the registration process for overseas dentists seeking to work in the UK.
The pandemic has caused major delays and disruptions to the ORE process, meaning many applicants are at risk of breaching strict time limits placed on sitting both parts of the exam. Additional pressure comes from the fact that, from 2023, those with dental qualifications from EU member states will no longer have their qualifications recognised, forcing them to instead take the ORE.
Mr Czerniawski said the process that overseas applicants must follow "is set out in inflexible legislation which only the government can change". And while the GDC has been working on proposed changes with the Department of Health and Social Care, “progress has been slower than we had hoped".
The key changes the GDC is pushing for is to:
- remove the need to hold the exams in dental schools
- have the power to increase fees to cover costs
- amend the strict five-year time limit to take into account pandemic delays.
Mr Czerniawski added: "We are doing all we can within the constraints of the current legislation to restart the ORE and create opportunities for people to qualify to work as dentists in the UK.
"But there are limits on how far we can go towards creating a robust international registration system which maintains our standards and operates at the scale it needs to for as long as those constraints remain."