Brexit result leaves dentistry in limbo

Dental profession united in concern over ramifications of historic EU referendum decision

As Ireland and the UK come to terms with the implications of the recent historic decision to leave the European Union, several groups have moved to reassure the dental profession.

The British Dental Association’s (BDA) chair Mick Armstrong sounded a note of caution saying that Brexit “could certainly mean significant changes for both dental regulation and the dental workforce”. However, Armstrong assured UK dentists that the BDA would “aim to ensure withdrawal works for dentists” by continuing to offer support and advice to its membership and continuing to “work with our international partners where UK dentists can benefit”.

And, while Northern Ireland’s economy suffered a decrease in activity in July – the first contraction for 14 months – Queen’s University Belfast released a statement saying that its “focus and ambition… remains unchanged”. It continued: “All existing registered students and those enrolling for the first time in 2016-17 have been assured that there will be no change to their current status. This applies to their fees, immigration status and ability to access student loans. EU students are, and will remain, an integral and valuable part of Queen’s University.

“Of course, UK universities now face a period of uncertainty. There will be many questions – from students, prospective students, staff, research partners and other stakeholders – which it may not be possible to answer for some time. But Queen’s will be working, through Universities UK and the Russell Group, to ensure that the best deal is secured for the University and its students through these negotiations.”

And the British Dental Industry Association said that the profession should view Brexit as an opportunity to positively influence change. BDIA policy and public affairs director Edmund Proffitt said: “There is a window of opportunity for the dental industry to share its positive vision for the future with key politicians, civil servants and decision makers. If Government can build the right regulatory environment and provide targeted investment in oral health it can make a significant contribution to protecting the UK’s oral health for years to come.”