Dentists in general and community practice: a Scottish survey

E Russell, M Leggate
British Dental Journal 2002 September 28, 193 (6): 333-7

OBJECTIVES: To identify the available workforce in general dental practice and to describe the job satisfaction, career and retirement plans of dentists in general and community practice.

DESIGN: A postal cross-sectional survey.

SETTING: Primary care dentists practising in Scotland in 2000.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Semi-structured questionnaires were sent to all primary care dentists identified from the Scottish Dental Practice Division as being in practice in Scotland.

RESULTS: The response rate was 70% (1,335 GDPs and 187 CDPs). Although most dentists in both the GDS and CDS stated that they enjoyed their work, 35% of GDPs would not now choose dentistry as a career. Eighty-three per cent of the GDPs' time was spent on clinical work, of which 5% was not NHS-funded. Daily demotivation was reported by 70%, most commonly citing the job itself and the NHS 'treadmill'. Two-thirds of CDPs were women, as were half of GDPs aged less than 30. Only 35% of CDPs planned early retirement but 80% of them felt underused. Two-thirds of GDPs planned to retire in their mid-50s, and a further quarter planned to work part-time. Of the former, only a quarter agreed that nothing would induce them to work beyond this time.

CONCLUSION: Conditions of work within primary care dentistry require modification to retain the current workforce and accommodate the increasing proportion of women. Part-time employment packages may encourage older practitioners to work for longer, and allow younger practitioners to fulfil family or personal commitments.


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