Pay collapse continues as patient access worsens, says BDA

14 October, 2019 / editorial

Figures say that more than a million new patients have tried and failed to get appointments

The British Dental Association (BDA) has warned that problems with patient access will endure, as official figures show sustained pressure on pay for NHS dentists across Britain. 

Scottish practice owners have seen a 29 per cent real-term fall, and associate dentists a 35 per cent fall. Dentist leaders have said figures show the service has yet to recover from a decade-long collapse in real incomes. 

Non-practice-owning associate dentists in England and Wales, who make up the overwhelming majority (80 per cent+) of the workforce, have seen their incomes drop from £67,800 in 2008/9 to £59,700 in 2017/18, a 36 per cent fall to less than £47,000 when factoring in inflation. Practice owners in England and Wales have seen their real incomes fall by 30 per cent since 2008/9. Access problems have worsened in recent years, as recruitment and retention issues have worsened. More than a million new patients have tried and failed to secure appointments according to BDA analysis of official figures.

BDA surveys also indicate deep recruitment and retention problems, with three out of five dental practitioners saying they intend to reduce their NHS work, or stop entirely, in the next five years. 

While dentist leaders have welcomed the latest above inflation pay awards, they have stressed the need for consistency given the scale of the last decade’s pay cuts.

Dave Cottam, Chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee said:
“NHS dentists have faced unprecedented cuts to real incomes, that have left patients struggling to get an appointment. “Recruitment and retention problems are mounting. 

NHS dentistry simply cannot have a future without NHS dentists prepared to work within it.” 

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