The Faculty of General Dental Practice UK (FGDP) is the only professional membership body in the UK specifically for general dental practice, and exists to improve the care delivered to patients in general dental practice through the provision of guidance and standards, postgraduate training and assessment, continuing education and research. The FGDP represents a diverse community of oral health professionals throughout the UK and beyond, and the diversity of the National Faculty Board is central to its effective representation of general dental practice.
Many historically disadvantaged groups are now well represented within general dentistry but remain underrepresented in the leadership of the profession, while some groups remain significantly underrepresented in the workforce in relation to the wider population. Some patient groups also have worse access to dental care, and the care and treatment received by patients is not always equal.
The Faculty is proud of its longstanding commitment to promoting equality and inclusion, but recognises that more needs to be done to address inequalities in opportunity and experience among dental professionals and in the care given to patients, and to increase diversity in the leadership of national dental organisations.
We are committed to addressing the impact of discrimination and believe this will benefit our patients and our profession. Ian Mills, Dean of the FGDP(UK), has said that dental leaders have a “moral obligation [to] support social justice through a culture and environment of inclusivity”, and in response to the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020 the Faculty committed to:
- Educate itself about the issues that affect BAME communities, and ensure the organisation actively promotes inclusion at every level; and as part of this, to review ongoing equality and diversity training for FGDP(UK) Board members and educational programme leads to ensure it is fit for purpose, and can implement positive and lasting change.
- Invite dental health care representatives from Black, Asian, Chinese and other minority groups to join a task force to identify the areas in dentistry which directly or indirectly disadvantage these groups.
- Collaborate with organisations and individuals across the profession to actively promote equality, diversity and inclusiveness in general dental practice.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programme
Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Programme Board (EDIPB), chaired by FGDP(UK) Vice Dean Onkar Dhanoya FFGDP(UK), was established in conjunction with the College of General Dentistry (CGDent) to oversee delivery of the FGDP's commitments.
The FGDP, CGDent and the British Dental Association (BDA) have also established a Racial Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, chaired by Martin Wanendeya MFGDP(UK), to look specifically at disadvantages and inequality of opportunity among ethnic minorities within the dental professions.
In July 2020, FGDP, CGDent and ProDental CPD co-hosted a ground-breaking webinar which explored racial inequality and prejudice experienced by colleagues working in all areas of dentistry, and we encourage all dental colleagues to view this. Onkar has blogged about his own experience as an Asian dentist, and Onkar and Ian were also interviewed about equality and racial discrimination for The Probe Podcast.
The FGDP, CGDent and BDA are currently collaborating on research into experiences of racism, racial discrimination and racial inequalities within the profession, and how these affect individual practitioners, and a survey was conducted in late 2020 / early 2021. The findings will be published in due course and will be used by the Racial Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group help to identify evidence-based actions to address the underlying issues, and to promote greater understanding in the profession of the experiences and concerns of their fellow dentists.
The Dean made gender inequality in dentistry the focus of his most recent annual address to Faculty members and professional leaders, and in January 2021 FGDP, CGDent and ProDental CPD co-hosted a webinar examining gender equality in dentistry, which heard powerful testimony from practitioners, and discussed what we can do to ensure issues are addressed. FGDP(UK) Vice Dean Susan Nelson MFGDP(UK) was among the speakers and has written a blog post outlining her own experience and her thoughts on the issues. The BDA is also leading joint work to address gender inequalities within the dental professions.
In March 2021, FGDP, CGDent and ProDental CPD co-hosted a webinar on disability and dentistry, which considered both the challenges of delivering oral health to patients with disabilities and the experience of working in dentistry with a disability, and we intend to organise a webinar looking at sexuality-based discrimination.
Diversity in Dentistry Action Group
The Office of the Chief Dental Officer for England is also taking forward a programme of work to promote diversity and inclusion in the dental profession, and has established a Diversity in Dentistry Action Group (DDAG) with representatives of 35 stakeholder organisations, including FGDP and CGDent, to promote collaborative action.
In May 2021, FGDP published the DDAG's report, Equality, diversity and inclusion within dentistry - a profession-wide commitment, which sets out the group’s aims, plans, recommendations and over 20 suggested actions, and represents an unprecedented joint commitment by the stakeholder organisations to the key principles for change under which the suggested actions are grouped:
- Working together to address inequalities and increase diversity in dentistry
- Ongoing improvement through constant enquiry, investigation and learning
- Creating a positive open learning culture across the profession and organisations which develops understanding and supports people to embrace diversity and inclusion
- Exploring and developing opportunities for representation and inclusion
- Actively committing to addressing racism and discrimination
- Organisational commitment to change at all levels
- Embracing workforce diversity
The impact of the risk of COVID-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) members of the UK dental profession - BDJ article by three Fellows of FGDP(UK) highlighting potential challenges faced by BAME members of the dental profession in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Black Community & Human Rights - report of the UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights which found that only 22% of Black Britons believe the NHS protects their health as well as that of white people.
Better supporting our patients with a learning disability and autism - a bulletin from the Office of the Chief Dental Officer for England highlighting advice and resources available to dental teams.
Racism and discrimination – the challenge for the GDC and dentistry - GDC blog which states that ethnic minority dental professionals are more likely to find themselves in front of the regulator, and which commits to publishing data and undertaking research into this.
Where Are You Really From? - project to highlight the contribution BAME staff make to the NHS and to document their stories.
COVID-19, Leadership and Gender Equality: Preparing for the challenges ahead - forthcoming article by members of the EDIPB in the Primary Dental Journal (available soon)