Dental Protection Calls for ORE Action

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Dental Protection says ORE backlog needs urgent action

Dental Protection is calling on the GDC and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to urgently tackle the Overseas Registration Exam (ORE) backlog, as figures show the waiting list to sit the exam has increased by 35% compared to last year. A Dental Protection spokesperson explains.

The backlog for both parts 1 and 2 of the examination, which overseas qualified dentists have to pass in order to register with the GDC and practise unsupervised in the UK, is a cause for concern amid significant demand for dental treatment and public dissatisfaction due to the huge treatment backlog.

Figures obtained by Dental Protection through an FOI request to the GDC, reveal that 1502 dental practitioners applied to take the April 2022 ORE – 1271 for Part 1 of the exam and 231 for Part 2.

In comparison, the number of dentists who were waiting to sit the exam in April 2021 was 1112 marking an increase of 35% in the backlog of dentists waiting to sit the ORE in the last 12 months. Sessions made available for the rest of the year are limited to roughly 700 overseas dentists, meaning many will miss out on the chance to complete Parts 1 and 2 before the certification period expires.

DHSC is holding a consultation proposing changes to the GDC international registration legislation, which the ORE falls under, also extending this consultation to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) legislation.
It aims to provide these regulators with greater flexibility to amend their international registration processes, which are currently constrained by prescriptive detail in existing legislation.

The wider dental team also face challenges posed by the existing international registration process. Responding to the consultation, Dental Protection stressed the importance of holding all dental professionals to the same standards, ensuring they are able to practise safely and not be subject to disproportionate referrals or complaints. Removing all undue delays and burdens to international registration for dentists and DCPs was also identified as an area for improvement.

Yvonne Shaw (top) Deputy Dental Director and Underwriting Policy Lead at Dental Protection added: “This exam backlog comes at the worst possible time, when we are seeing public dissatisfaction due to the huge NHS and private treatment backlog, and reports of thousands of dentists quitting the NHS. Now more than ever the process by which overseas graduates are being assessed in order to register and practise in the UK, must be fair and efficient.

“In addition, the longer it takes dentists who qualified overseas to complete the ORE, the longer they could be away from clinical practice. This risks deskilling, which, considering the high-pressure workforce they will be joining, should be avoided. Time away from practice may also make passing the ORE even more challenging.

“The current situation is harmful to both dentists and patients, and we call on the GDC and DHSC to ensure the backlog is tackled in a timely manner. While it is encouraging that the DHSC is working with the GDC on amending legislation to enable greater flexibility in alternative routes to registration for overseas graduates, the same momentum must be applied to the address the rapidly increasing ORE backlog.”