A dental workforce review for a Midlands Strategic Health Authority.
Hornby P., Stokes E., Russell W., Cochrane D., Morris J.
OBJECTIVE: To explore opportunities for workforce development in NHS general dental services (GDS) in Shropshire and Staffordshire. METHOD: Secondary data sources were supplemented with a primary survey of GDS practices to build up a profile of the existing GDS workforce and its current capacity. Attitudes and perceptions on current workforce issues and potential solutions were gathered using a second survey and explored further through other qualitative techniques including interviews and a focus group discussion. RESULTS: The results confirm that there is a shortage of dentists in the area, fuelled by multiple factors including the move from NHS to private work, the decision to retire early and a growing disillusionment with NHS policies and remuneration. Modelling of alternate approaches to future dental clinical needs highlighted the opportunity for meeting the consequent workforce demands through increased involvement of hygienists and therapists. CONCLUSIONS: This study has provided local evidence to inform dental service development in Shropshire and Staffordshire. It has provided a starting point for exploring new ways of working and will contribute towards a more effective implementation of new and evolving service strategies.