NHS dentists in Scotland awarded 3 per cent pay rise

12 August, 2021 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

The Scottish Government has announced a 3 per cent pay rise for NHS medical and dental staff “in recognition of their efforts during the pandemic,” it said in a statement.

The award is in line with the recommendation of the independent UK Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration and will be backdated to 1 April this year.

Humza Yousaf, the Health Secretary, said: “This pay award is in recognition of an exceptional year for all of our NHS workers and reflects the immense value we place on the continued hard work and dedication of medical and dental staff.

“This announcement means that our senior medical staff will continue to be the best paid in the UK. As well as rewarding them for their efforts during the pandemic, it will help to ensure that NHS Scotland remains an attractive employment option for medical and dental staff.”

The announcement covers three main staff groups not covered by the Agenda for Change pay deal – NHS Scotland Medical and Dental staff; General Medical Practitioners and General Dental Practitioners.

Agenda for Change employees have already been awarded a deal providing minimum pay rises of 4 per cent to all but the highest-earning staff.

Following the announcement, the British Dental Association (BDA) called on the Scottish Government to confirm that the pay award for dentists will be applied to practitioners’ overall remuneration package “to avoid front line staff potentially being left out of pocket and practices struggling to invest to improve care”. 

It said that, historically in Scotland, the recommended uplift has not applied to all dentists allowances and payments, meaning the overall awards often fall short of the pay review body’s recommendations.

Last year the Scottish Government did not apply the recommended 2.8 per cent uplift to practice allowances – which make up around 16 per cent of practice income – leaving an overall increase of less than the review body’s recommendations. The BDA estimates that the net award for that year was around 2.3 per cent.

While one-off support to fund improvements in ventilation has been offered by the Scottish Government, NHS dentists do not routinely receive capital investment. These earnings serve to fund all improvements in equipment, training, and facilities for NHS practices, said the BDA.

Scottish Government officials have stated they will provide details of how the package will operate in due course. The BDA is calling for the 3 per cent uplift to be applied to the full remuneration package.

David McColl, Chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said: “The Scottish Government’s announcement has left key questions unanswered.

“This uplift will do little to correct a decade of austerity, and not all of this increase may actually reach dentists, who rely on their earnings to invest in their practices.

“In the recent election, Ministers put dentistry front and centre in their pitch for government. If they are going to deliver on their promises they shouldn’t be short-changing front line practitioners.”

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