Sir, – I refer to the article "Government's oral health policy fundamentally flawed, says dental body" (News, October 3rd). It states that the RCSI faculty of dentistry is concerned that the current training of dentists requires change, otherwise the new oral health policy cannot work.
The Dental Council has statutory responsibility for training dentists and ensuring their competence. The HSE has statutory responsibility for providing continuing professional development (CPD) for dentists. Since 2009, the HSE has spent over €1 million on dental CPD. Only 11 of these 400-plus CPD courses were specific to paediatric dentistry.
Furthermore, at least one dental school offers no hands-on clinical training for undergraduates in the treatment of under six-year-olds. These facts demonstrate the inadequacy of undergraduate and post graduate training in paediatric dentistry overseen by the Dental Council and provided by the HSE in preparation for the implementation of the new oral health policy. Since its publication last April, there has been no opportunity provided by the HSE or proposed by the Dental Council for upskilling general dental practitioners who have concerns about their competence in providing good paediatric oral healthcare.
The oral health policy will remove responsibility for the dental care of children from dentists working in public clinics with vast experience and training in providing oral healthcare for children. General dentists like myself whose training and postgraduate continuing professional development in this field has been completely neglected will be expected to provide this important service.
For the safety of the public, the statutory bodies with responsibility for ensuring competence and providing training in dentistry need to ensure that dentists, both present and future, are given adequate opportunity to ensure their competence in paediatrics before racing ahead to roll out a policy conceived without the input of clinicians expected to operate it. – Yours, etc,