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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Plans to retain women dentists
There are 139 vacancies for dentists in Scotland
Female dentists are to be offered incentives to keep up-to-date with practice during career breaks.

There are a third more women working as dentists than men, and by 2005, more women than men will qualify as dentists.

Many will take career breaks, and the government has announced a 350 annual allowance to help them keep in touch with developments in dentistry while they do so.

Research has shown that around two thirds of the female dentists who have a career break, often to have families, intend to come back .

Any steps that support and encourage women in their careers are important for both patients and the future of the profession as a whole

Dr John Renshaw, British Dental Association
However, many are deterred because they feel they have lost confidence in their abilities, and are out of touch with dentistry practice.

Those who do return to work may choose to go take-up part-time private work which is more convenient and better paid than going back into the NHS.

Keeping in touch

The initiative will also include one-to-one advice and free access to educational courses,.

Health minister Hazel Blears said: "Women are an increasing force in dentistry and this government is committed to enabling women to realise their potential in their chosen careers.

She added: "The 'Keeping in Touch' scheme is the dentistry profession's 'open door'.

"It will ensure that dentists on career breaks still have contact with the dentistry profession and its developments, as well as access to good quality courses to help them keep up their skills."

The British Dental Association (BDA) thinks the new measures will bring immediate and positive results but recognise that more radical long-term treatment will be required.

Dr John Renshaw of the BDA said: "By 2005 more women than men will be graduating from dental school, any steps that support and encourage women in their careers are important for both patients and the future of the profession as a whole.

"The new annual allowance and opportunity to keep up with continuing professional development is a step forward and we look forward to seeing further moves by the government to support women in the dental workforce."

Kathryn Neal from Southampton, a dentist who returned to work in 1999, said: "Deciding to go back and practice dentistry can seem daunting after a career break, but for me it has been very rewarding.

"The new scheme, with its one-on-one advisors and sensible level of funding should encourage more women to keep in touch with the profession when they are away and ultimately return to dentistry."

See also:

25 Apr 02 | Scotland
'Golden hellos' to fill dentist gap
17 Apr 02 | Education
Dentistry attracts top students
29 Sep 00 | Education
Medical school's open doors
08 Apr 02 | Health
Medicine 'may have to favour men'
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