Annex J: British Dental Association
Follow-up response received 06 July 2020:
BDA Scotland has no objection in principle to amending what appears to be an anomalous piece of legislation from over 50 years ago, however we have some concerns about the possible implications should St Andrew's decide it wants to offer dental degrees, as noted in our formal response.
Members also asked that we highlight concerns about a potential inequalities issue in relation to access to education. If there is to be a more diverse Scottish medical profession, and we understand that St Andrews do want to award an undergraduate medical degree, then a university somewhere like the West of Scotland or Paisley or Falkirk for example, would, in our members opinion have been a more sensible choice These areas have existing local district general hospitals that would benefit from the support of undergraduate medical training, as would the local population in these deprived areas.
We would finally note that in relation to dentistry and future unintended consequences, the most recent dental school opening in Aberdeen did not increase the number of dentists in training as there was a reduction in undergraduate numbers at both Dundee and Glasgow.
Formal response received 18 June 2020:
The British Dental Association (BDA) is the professional association and trade union for dentists practising in the UK. BDA members are engaged in all aspects of dentistry including general practice, salaried primary care dental services, the armed forces, hospitals, academia and research, and include dental students.
The BDA welcomes the opportunity to respond to this consultation which asks the question:
Do you agree that the Scottish Ministers should seek the Parliament's approval to repeal paragraph 17 of Schedule 6 to the Universities (Scotland) Act 1966 and therefore reinstate the ability of the University of St Andrews to hold qualifying examinations and award degrees in medicine and midwifery, as well as degrees and licences in dentistry?
A mixed response was received from committee members, although all members welcomed plans to extend the number of undergraduate doctors in training. The majority of members voiced their concerns that Scottish Ministers should seek the Parliament's approval to repeal paragraph 17 of Schedule 6 to the Universities (Scotland) Act 1966, for the following reasons:
1. Sections of the consultation paper
Paragraph 6 states there was no major teaching hospital in the St Andrews area in 1966 when the act was established. This situation is unchanged.
There is no large population centre at St Andrews to warrant a medical school.
Members were concerned and questioned that this proposed change could be a stepping-stone to awarding postgraduate degrees in dentistry instead, with placements at the Dundee School of Dentistry? It was considered that this would be lucrative if aimed at the large number of US students that study at St Andrews, but possibly detrimental to the Dundee School of Dentistry
Paragraph 6.26 states discussions with officials from the other four universities about reinstating the ability to award degrees in medicine were positive but there is no mention about discussions regarding dentistry and midwifery, and what the outcome of those were.
If St Andrews "has no intention" of providing dental degrees, they would still be able to start oral health science degrees, which might undermine therapist/hygienist training at centres across Scotland: Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of the Highlands and the School of Hygiene in Glasgow. A further reason not to repeal paragraph 17 of Schedule 6 to the Universities (Scotland) Act 1966.
Paragraph 7 confirms St Andrews currently offers a BSc in medicine and postgraduate medical degrees by research (paragraph 8). This remains unchanged.
BDA Scotland believes that to help address health inequalities in Scotland, training of doctors should be undertaken in Scotland in areas of socio-economic deprivation. This would meet the aim of the Scottish Government commitment to "…. encourage more people into a career in healthcare, whatever their background."
BDA Scotland suggests that a health-inequalities impact assessment should have formed part of the decision process on where to provide the graduate entry on the ScotGEM programme.
Paragraph 20 states that the University has no intention of offering degrees in midwifery and dentistry. This confirms that wider repeal of the act is unnecessary.
Members questioned if there was any benefit of being able to award a dental degree when St Andrews does not provide dentistry as a degree course?
2. Geography and Proximity to Dundee Dental School
Members were of the view that it appears St Andrews wish to have this change granted because they are the only university where it is prohibited.
Concerns were noted that St Andrews is in close proximity to Dundee which already has an excellent School of Dentistry, and it is hoped the suggestion would not make the Dundee School surplus to requirements.
It was highlighted that the cost of setting up a medical, midwifery and/or dental school, so close to Dundee would be prohibitive, should that be a consideration.
St Andrews does not have a teaching hospital. Members questioned whether it would be proposed that resources be taken away from the University of Dundee, for example hospital placements?
3. Private Business Model
Members were suspicious and asked the question, "was there a plan to set up a private dental school?"
4. Timing of the Consultation
Members commented that the timing of this consultation was insensitive being issued at the time of a national pandemic where there was widespread uncertainty and anxiety, not just amongst the dental profession, and that it was a distraction, leading to suspicions as to the motive.
5. No Objection
The small number of members who did not object to St Andrews University having the technical right to award such degrees, without the necessary teaching hospitals suggested that other provisos would have to apply. BDA Scotland June 2020