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Brexit and Dentistry: A European Perspective

As the UK ponders it’s decision to leave the EU, we take a look at how Brexit will impact on dentistry and dental students from a European perspective.



The European Union is the worlds largest and most advanced regional economic blog; despite this, it is about to lose one of its biggest members, the United Kingdom, thanks to a public vote called a referendum. It was held on on the 23rd June 2016, when voters were asked if the UK should leave or remain in the European Union Union – the British voted by 52% to 48 to leave the EU. Negotiations are ongoing, but how and when the UK leaves the EU will have implications that ripple around the globe.


What it has to do with dentistry

Brexit will have on impacts on dentistry in both the UK and in the EU. These effects will include changes in the movement of dentists and dental care professionals (including the various processes for the mutual recognition of qualifications), the import and export of dental equipment and materials, the supply of medicines, health and safety legislation, data protection regulations, research and development.


EU dentist who work in The UK

So far the Government confirmed that EU citizens and their family members that are resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 will be able to remain there and continue to work under the EU Settlement Scheme, which consist of 3 simple questions online. People will be asked to prove their ID, note any criminal convinctions and say if they live in the UK and the information will pe checked by the Gorvernment before giving the status settled of pre-settled. It is not possible to choose which one to apply for. The status depends on the period of living in the UK when the EU citizens is applying. The rights will be different depending the status type. Therefore the dentists who are are working in the present in the UK are safe for now. However, it is still a mistery how the timescales and requirements for applying for settled status will be, depending on whether there is a deal or no-deal Brexit.


EU dentist who want to come to work in The UK

EU candidates are becoming increasingly less interested in UK positions as a consequence of Brexit. Many EU professionals are unwilling to risk coming to the UK in case a hard Brexit or no deal makes staying here impossible for them. Uncertainty over whether this recognition will remain after Brexit understandably can create a huge element of instability as to how the NHS and dental practices will hire their future workforce and whether there will enough candidates to fill positions after March 2019.

Furthermore, the implication is that they will have to compete for work visas due to the fact that the Government is currently standing by their election pledge to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands”., where only the person who obtains the job is given the permission to work in the UK, and only for a defined time after which they might apply for indefinite leave to remain.


How about dentistry students

At this very moment there are around 135,000 EU students in UK universities and vice-chancellors recently called for “urgent clarification” about the status of EU students who might apply for courses beginning in autumn 2019. For now there is no decision or deal regarding the treatment of EU students that want to study in UK. The worst-case scenario is that EU students who want to study in UK will be recognized as overseas students and, as a consequence, will pay a bigger amount of money for university This could push these students to choose to study in another country. As for students who started their studies in the UK before Brexit they will continue to pay the same tuition fees as British citizens and be eligible for tuition fee loans. Regarding access to student grants or loans, EU students in the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement will continue to enjoy the same rules as they enjoyed before Brexit.


The number 1 issue in UK: workforce

Another challenge which arises in dentistry due to Brexit is the workforce crisis in UK. The profession has relied greatly on the EU to fill vacancies in recent years and make up for the country’s shortcomings in new recruits. Approximately 17% of dentists registered with the GDC are from the EU – they are estimated to deliver around 22% of NHS dentistry rising up to 30% in socially deprived areas and up to a third of the UK’s 6,300 European qualified dental registrants intend to leave UK dentistry due to a survey from the General Dental Council. As a result there will be a struggle for dental providers to meet the demand for dental services in their communities. A spokesperson for the British Dental Association mentioned: “Practices are experiencing increasing difficulties in recruiting dentists. That is particularly the case outside of the larger urban areas. We need to ensure that our requirement for dentists is matched by the available supply. That supply should come principally from our own dental schools, but in the shorter term, migration policy now and post-Brexit also needs to ensure appropriate availability of dentists.”


The import of medicines and medical devices from Europe

Apart from the lack of dental care professionals, another possible issue that will be caused by Brexit is related to medicines and medical devices exported from European countries that are part of EU. At this very moment it is questionable the future provision of medicines and devices used in dental practice. There is a big chance of a price rising that have to be covered by dentist. What is more, this affects both the dentist and the client, considering the fact that the price is prone to increasing. It is true to say that EU will suffer too, due to the fact that UK exports every month around 45 million packs of medicines to EU and EEU.

Brexit: good or bad for dentistry?

All things considered, it is reasonable to say that Brexit will have many drawbacks for dentistry. Nevertheless, it is up to us, the EU citizens and to them, and the UK citizens how will cope with this type of transformation so we can all provide the best services in dentistry.

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