The General Dental Council (GDC), which regulates dentists and dental care professionals in the United Kingdom, has launched a consultation on a draft policy to ensure these personnel have the necessary knowledge of the English language.
Under new powers granted by the government, the GDC now can ask for evidence of a dental professional’s language skills prior to registration if there are concerns that the professional isn’t fluent enough in English to practice dentistry.
The current GDC standards state: “You must be sufficiently fluent in written and spoken English to communicate effectively with patients, their relatives, the dental team, and other healthcare professionals in the United Kingdom.” Communication is defined as “speaking, reading, writing, and listening.”
Recent primary dental qualifications that have been taught and examined in English may serve as evidence. So may a recent pass in a language test for registration with a regulatory authority in a country where the first and native language in English. Recent practice in a country where the first and native language is English also may be accepted. And, an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate at the appropriate level may count as evidence.
The new powers also enable the GDC to ask individuals applying for registration to undergo a test to evaluate their English language skills if they are unable to provide evidence of fluency. The GDC, then, is consulting on the following areas:
- The information the GDC will accept as evidence that an applicant has the necessary knowledge of English;
- The use of the IELTS to assess whether an applicant has the necessary knowledge of English;
- Whether the draft guidance should be applied to all applicants, including those who have trained and qualified from within the European Economic Area and those who have trained outside of it.
The consultation will be open until January 4, 2016. The GDC invites the public to participate online.