National dental workforce collection

Classification: Official
Publication reference: PRN00759


  • All NHS primary care dental contract holders


  • Regional directors of commissioning
  • Regional directors of primary care and public health
  • Integrated care board primary care leads

Dear colleague,

National dental workforce collection

This letter sets out the arrangements for a new bi-annual national dental workforce collection which will be in place from 1 October 2023 onwards. To support practices to complete the return associated guidance is available here. Please note that completion of the form is required for all General Dental Services (GDS) contracts and Personal Dental Services (PDS) agreements in England, regardless of whether they are paid by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA).

We have listened to your concerns that retention and recruitment of the dental workforce is an issue, and how this can have a significant impact on practice running and the ability to deliver NHS services to patients. Accordingly, there is a need for integrated care board (ICBs) and NHS England to have access to high-quality time series data regarding the dental workforce, so that informed decisions can be made.

You will be aware that a covid related workforce data collection was first introduced in June 2020, which remained in place until 2022. This collection provided NHS England with data relating to how the dental workforce was supporting the Covid-19 and provided a picture of the wider dental workforce for the first time. Lessons have been learned from this data collection which have informed this new collection, in particular reducing the frequency of the new national dental workforce collection which will now only need to be completed twice a year.  

The data from the workforce collection form submissions is important because it will provide data not currently available to ICBs and NHS England to help us understand the following:

  • Trends regarding retention and recruitment of staff;
  • Vacancy rates; and
  • NHS workforce available and NHS capacity

Thank you in advance for your support.

Yours sincerely,

Ali Sparke, Director for Pharmacy, Optometry, Dentistry and the NHS Standard Contract, NHS England