Dental students in Wales are fed up to the back teeth at being denied places on a vital course which enables them to work in the NHS.
Professor Michael Lewis, the Dean of Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry has pointed out an anomaly which is jeopardising his students’ career opportunities.
As part of their training, dentistry students have to complete a year-long Dental Foundation (DF1) Training Course within a practice in order to work as a dentist within the NHS.
But Professor Lewis claims that dentists from Europe are exempt from this and UK graduates are therefore losing positions to fellow graduates who have come from overseas, attracted by the prospects that UK dentistry has to offer.
He points out that graduates in the UK must complete the NHS-funded DFI Training within 18 months of finishing their fourth year. If a graduate fails to secure a training place within this time limit, options to pursue their chosen career will be limited.
Professor Lewis is adamant that the system should be changed to protect UK dentists and the investment that has been made in their training.
The current system means that students in this country could be up to
£50,000 in debt by the time they apply for the course, and in addition, it is estimated that it costs the taxpayer more than
£100,000 to train each graduate dentists. In 2012, 35 UK graduates were denied DF1funding.
Professor Lewis would like to move to a system where the DF1 places are locked on for the UK graduates when they start the course, so that when people are being taken on, it is known that they are going to be able to receive the necessary training. Otherwise, he says, it is a significant waste of taxpayers’ money and a tragedy for the graduates who have taken on large amounts of debt in order to pursue their vocation.
The Welsh Government has said that it is well aware of an increased demand from European students, but it believes that all the Cardiff graduates were either in DF1 training or in other employment.
However, the students themselves are concerned that the 35 people who did not get DF1 training in 2012 will have a snowball effect, because they would be trying again in 2013. A spokesman said that it was such a stress thinking about the five years training and finding out that they could not get work at the end of it.