Dentists with qualifications gained outside the UK must follow one of three routes including the Overseas Registration Examination (ORE). The ORE is due to become the primary international route once the special arrangements for recognising European qualifications come to an end.
Stefan Czerniawski, GDC’s Executive Director for Strategy, said:
“There are two changes to the legislation in particular which we think are necessary for that to happen. The first is the legal requirement for the ORE to be delivered by dental schools. This significantly limits the number of organisations which can run the exam and constrains the number of places that are available each year. Removing that requirement could mean more exam places being available more frequently and in more locations, giving people who need to use this route to register more choice to organise their professional development, career and indeed lives around being able to practise in the UK.
“The second is to change the basis on which examination fees are set. At present, candidates pay a fee which was fixed in 2015 and does not cover all the costs of running the ORE. The shortfall is met from GDC’s general funds – which in practice means that the ORE is subsidised from the fees paid by dental professionals already on the register.”
The pandemic has exposed and created wider issues
The General Dental Council (GDC) announced that one sitting of the Overseas Registration Exam (ORE) will take place in January 2022. The ORE was suspended in early 2020 as part of the response to COVID-19.
There is currently a rule in place that says ORE Part 2 must be passed within five years of first attempting Part 1 but due to the Covid pandemic, many overseas qualified dentist were not able to sit Part 2.
Czerniawski went on to say:
“The obvious solution would be to relax the five-year rule to take account of the extraordinary situation caused by the Covid pandemic – but the rule is written into legislation in a way which gives us no discretion at all, so we simply cannot legally do that. Instead, we have been discussing with the DHSC changes to the law which remove the barrier to taking Part 2 where the delay is a result of the pandemic. We are optimistic that that will lead to a solution, but until the necessary legal changes are made, candidates will not be able to sit the Part 2 exam if they have reached the five-year limit.
“We’re well aware that it is the candidates waiting for a place who are bearing the brunt of all this. They have had to deal with prolonged uncertainty while they have not been able to move on with their professional careers or to make long term plans. Candidates caught out by the five-year rule are in a more difficult situation still. The sooner the ORE can resume, the sooner we can start to make inroads into the problem, and it’s a big step forward that we have been able to arrange a Part 2 session for January next year. We’ve prioritised the offer of places to those approaching the five-year limit, and we hope to be able to announce further sessions in 2022 soon.
“We are doing all we can within the constraints of the current legislation to restart the ORE and create opportunities for people to qualify to work as dentists in the UK. But there are limits on how far we can go towards creating a robust international registration system which maintains our standards and operates at the scale it needs to for as long as those constraints remain.”