UK dental leaders cautious in Brexit vote aftermath


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The majority of British voters in the referendum has decided to split from the European Union. (Photograph: Nito/Shutterstock)
Dental Tribune International

By Dental Tribune International

Tue. 28. June 2016


LONDON, UK: Dental stakeholders throughout the UK have reacted cautiously to the results of the referendum that saw the majority of people in Britain last week decide the country should leave the European Union. In a statement on the vote, the British Dental Association (BDA) declared that it would offer support and advice to its members about the full implications of the withdrawal process once its terms had been decided on.

“At this early stage we do not know what shape Brexit will take, but it could certainly mean significant changes for both dental regulation and the dental workforce,” BDA chair Mick Armstrong commented.

The BDA did not take a position in the referendum. While no official statistics are available on the number of dentists in the UK who voted to remain or leave, a poll conducted by Dental Tribune Online in March indicated that a slight majority of dental professionals would have preferred the country to stay in the EU.

UK dentistry is directly affected by EU legislation in a number of areas, including movement of labour. Last year alone saw more than 7,000 dentists from EU member countries seeking registration with the General Dental Council (GDC). Their future status remains uncertain after Friday’s decision—though unaffected in the interim—as does that of British dentists currently working in another EU member country.

Other areas that could be affected by the vote are health and safety legislation, as well as the import of dental equipment and materials.

In a statement on its website, the GDC said: “The Prime Minister made clear that the formal process for implementing the referendum result would be taken forward under a new leader, and that won’t happen immediately. We will communicate any changes widely as and when the position develops.”

“It’s far too‎ soon to predict the long-term impact on our business, if any, from the vote in the UK,” a representative of Henry Schein, the UK’s and the world’s largest provider of dental products and services, told Dental Tribune Online. “Our focus remains serving as the trusted adviser to our customers, and no geopolitical event will change that.”

The result of the referendum has sparked economic uncertainty not only in Europe but also in markets around the world. As a direct result of Friday’s announcement, the pound hit a 31-year low over the weekend. Share values too tumbled worldwide in response to the outcome, including those of major dental industry competitors, such as Henry Schein and Dentsply Sirona.

As a consequence of the outcome of the referendum, David Cameron announced on Friday that he would step down as Prime Minister in September. Negotiations about a new agreement with the EU in Brussels are expected to begin in September once a new government has been appointed. Under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, Britain will then have two years to negotiate a new agreement with the EU.

Editorial note: As a global company with deep roots in Europe, we at Dental Tribune International have always been supportive of the European idea. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Friday’s decision by the British people, the UK market will remain a vital part of our worldwide portfolio. We will, however, continue to investigate and report on the leaving process and provide dental professionals with sound advice and information on how to cope successfully with any changes to come.

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