By Nairn Wilson CBE
Former Dean and Clinical Director of Manchester University Dental Hospital and Chair of the Board of the College of General Dentistry.
Dentistry, unlike all other major healthcare professions, does not have its own, independent College, let alone Royal College. The College, intended Royal College of General Dentistry (https://cgdent.uk) will address this anomaly.
The College, which is for all members of the dental team, will provide UK-wide leadership to foster excellence in oral healthcare. In addition, it will set standards, provide new, fit for future purpose career pathways for all dental primary healthcare professionals and, very importantly a powerful, authoritative, inclusive voice for the profession.
The College will complement the British Dental Association and other professional bodies in dentistry and the largely specialist focussed work of the Faculties of Dental Surgery hosted by the Royal Surgical Colleges in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The College will also seek to establish close working relationships with existing Royal Colleges in other fields of healthcare, seven of which have, to date, joined the 50 strong, and growing list of organisations and bodies which support the formation of the College (https://cgdent.uk/support/supporting-institutions/).
The College has already opened its membership to members of the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK), which will merge with the College as soon as it has completed its separation from the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and all DCPs.
Membership of the College will be open to all GDC registrants, past and present, and suitably qualified members of the dental team overseas, after the transfer of the Faculty to the College. The intended date for this to occur is 30 June 2021. Non-FGDP(UK), dentally qualified colleagues not wishing to wait several months before being able to join the College may do so by first joining FGDP(UK).
The more members and supporters the College acquires, the stronger the case to be made to the Privy Council for a Royal Charter. So, if you believe that dentistry’s own, independent College should be a Royal College, join at your earliest convenience.
As part of its plans, the College of General Dentistry will be offering free affiliation to all UK dental students and those in training leading to a registrable DCP qualification. The College will be anxious to give strong support to all dental healthcare professionals, especially those making the difficult transition between primary qualification studies and training and clinical practice.
At the other end of the continuum of profession life, the College intends to make special provisions for colleagues who are no longer on the Dentist’s Register, specifically those who wish to remain connected with their chosen profession, with opportunity to stay in touch with like-minded friends and colleagues. In these and other endeavours, it is hoped that the College will find ways to work to mutual benefit with Dental Alumni Associations across the UK, including SOMANDA.
In the meantime, there is still opportunity to go down in history as a College Founder, Founding Contributor or Contributor, all of whom have their names included in the College’s Roll of Honour ( https://cgdent.uk/support/roll-of-honour/ ) which, in addition to remaining on the College website, will be specially reproduced and put on permanent display, as and when the College obtains its own premises.
Looking forward to when the College is well-established, members will look back at the many, different ways the profession was disadvantaged by not having its own Royal College, and wonder why it took so long to establish one.
At present, many in the profession may not be missing something they have never had, but are looking for new leadership, career opportunities, standards, guidance and the many more things the College of General Dentistry will bring to the profession.
This, in my opinion, includes colleagues on specialist lists and in senior hospital and academic positions who underpin their clinical practice with high quality general dentistry.
The growing momentum to establish and make a great success of the College of General Dentistry must not now be thwarted. In contrast, it deserves ever-increasing support which fellow members of SOMANDA should get behind in their interests, the interests of the profession and, of course, the interests of patients and the public.