Returning to practice

These pages are designed to assist those dentists who are thinking of returning to practice after a period away from clinical work for whatever reason. If you are in this category you may well find it somewhat daunting to return to dentistry or just want some information about the possibilities of doing so. You are not alone in feeling like this and yet the experience of some people is that if the break is not too long their dental skills can return quite quickly as soon as they are working in a supportive clinical environment. However, it is vital that patient safety is not compromised and that you are confident that you are able to operate in a safe, consistent manner according to best practice.  Hopefully you will have planned your break in advance and will know what you need to do when you return. Nevertheless this is not always the case and you may need to contact Health Education England working across the east of England (HEE EoE) for advice. HEE EoE has been contacted by those who have had both short and long career breaks.

When you are ready to return to practice you will need to decide how and where you wish to work. This could be full or part-time, in primary or secondary care, and could be in a predominantly NHS or private practice. Obviously you will first have to ensure that your full registration with the GDC is current (which will entail, among other things, having kept up your CPD hours including attendance at GDC core courses during your time away from dental practice) and that your indemnification is organised.

HEE EoE runs courses throughout the east of England. Courses are now booked on-line via registration using the Intrepid system and you will also find out how to register on our website. See Dental Courses and CPD here. Most of our postgraduate centres now have clinical skills units attached for practical work. It is likely that you will be charged by the centres if you wish to enrol on an organised Section 63 course if you do not have an NHS Performers number.

Some of the London teaching hospitals can offer hands-on refresher or specialised courses. The LonDEC centre provides a 3 day retraining course in restorative dentistry; they can also tailor a refreshment course to an individual’s needs. Their website is: www.londec.co.uk

If you decide that you wish to return to primary care NHS dentistry you will first have to find a practice that can offer you a position. This can be achieved by checking the advertisements in the British Dental Journal, the BDJ Jobs website, or contacting some of the dental agencies. There are also some other dental websites which have information about vacancies. The regulations that cover inclusion on an Area Team (formerly PCT) list are covered by the NHS (Performers List) Regulations 2004 together with the 2005 amendment which applies solely to dentistry.

Once you have found somewhere you would need to apply to your Area Team (AT) where you wish to work for an NHS Performers List assessment. You will need to complete the national application from to the NHS Performers List which can be found on the NPL website which is: http://www.performer.england.nhs.uk/documents

This form, when completed, should be sent to the AT where the practice in which you are planning to work is located.

Current guidance produced by NHS England in Publications Gateway No 01194 states that any returning UK graduate who has been absent from NHS dental practice for over 4 years would need to provide the following evidence to satisfy Area Team requirements:

  • They would need to participate in and provide evidence of attendance and completion of an ‘Introduction to the NHS or an equivalent course covering NHS Rules and Regulations
  • Produce 2 acceptable NHS competency based references from clinicians in the current practice where they are working, if possible. If this is not possible then a second reference could be accepted from another clinician who has experience of the dentist’s clinical work eg a consultant to whom the dentist has referred patients to
  • Provide evidence that they have attended and completed all the GDC mandatory requirements.

Area Teams should engage with their local Dental Advisors in making assessments of dentists who plan to return to work. The Advisors may contact HEE EoE for advice or guidance from workforce support. In some cases it may be necessary to refer an assessment to HEE EoE.

HEE EoE has noticed an increase in referral numbers from ATs or dentists for assessment in cases where they have already undertaken DF or VT training but have had a break from dentistry for a variety of reasons.

These are requests for a ‘return to work assessment’. An assessment panel would be convened to consider your application. This would involve producing a portfolio to satisfy the domains in the competency framework which can be found in the Access to AT Dental Performers Lists by Assessment section on our website.

Please note HEE EoE has not been allocated funding to assess this group of dentists.

If you have had an NHS job offer and made an NHS Performers List application via an AT:

  • If you have previously completed Dental Foundation (DF) or Vocational Training and  your AT has requested a return to work assessment this would be paid for by the AT at a rate of £300 per assessment. Your AT is likely to claim this payment back from you.
  • If you have not done DF or VT and are not exempt from the requirement to undertake VT and your AT has requested an assessment this would be funded by HEE EoE This is no different from a standard DFT (formerly VT) by Assessment

If you have not had an NHS job offer yet but wish to return to work there would be no difference whether you are have or have not done VT. HEE EoE would be willing to offer advice and support (this could include meetings at HEE EoE). When a job offer has been made then you would feed into either of the above categories.

If you have not had an NHS job offer but self-refer to HEE EoE for an assessment to gauge your status compared to the DFT by Assessment requirements, a panel assessment could be undertaken at a rate of £300 per assessment.

For an outline of the DFT by Assessment Application Process please click here.

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