Advancing Dental Care: Evaluation Report

Health Education England’s (HEE’s) Advancing Dental Care (ADC) Review Report is the culmination of a three-year review to identify and develop a future dental education and training infrastructure that produces a skilled multi-professional oral healthcare workforce to best support patient and population needs within the NHS. SQW undertook the independent evaluation of ADC innovative training initiatives, the report of which was published by HEE alongside the ADC Review Report.

SQW’s study explored six initiatives:

  • Two-year combined Dental Foundation Training and Dental Core Training (DCT) programmes in two regions, designed both to enhance the attractiveness of key posts and provide a more rounded early career experience of dentistry
  • Alternative DCT posts (meaning alternative to solely oral and maxillofacial surgery training posts) which included posts with rotations in different sites, settings or specialities and academic clinical fellow posts
  • Level 2 training, to provide professional development opportunities for experienced general practice dentists to enable them to conduct more complex case work
  • Dental Therapist Foundation Training to improve clinical skills, experience and confidence for newly qualified dental therapists
  • Return to Therapy, to refresh the therapist skills of those who qualified but have since been delivering hygienist level care
  • Dental Nurse Apprenticeships in a hospital setting, exploring implications of changes to the funding from HEE to the apprenticeship levy.

The rationale underpinning the need for training reform continues to be relevant and important. Patient needs and workforce supply issues continue to be felt in different regions of England, and at different scale and intensity. Understanding about the scope of practice in the workforce, where people work and the costs and benefits of certain strategic training options, has however improved. The evaluation also found that the programme has encouraged key stakeholders to work together on issues affecting them all, and allowed regional variation to occur within a national learning network, and this in turn encouraged a positive, proactive and reflective approach to change.

HEE has worked and engaged with trainees, patients and system partners to devise a blueprint for change to reform dental education and training, which includes widening access to dental careers and understanding the oral health needs of patients in specific communities, so the skills and competencies of the workforce can be targeted where they are most needed.

Over the next four years, HEE plans to continue to work collaboratively with system partners to deliver the recommendations of the ADC Review report across each of England’s seven regions. The proposals include a focus on skills development, widening access and participation, and flexible working.

SQW's Evaluation Report can be viewed here, with further context on the ADC Review available here.