Risk to pipeline of dentists due to trainee pay disparity, say experts

08 January, 2024 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s Faculty of Dental Surgery has highlighted pay gap disparities among trainees.

Faculty leaders say the wage gap is discouraging professionals from pursuing crucial roles in dental care and contributing to low morale among aspiring dentists, ultimately putting the future of dentistry at risk and affecting patient access to essential treatment.

The salary discrepancy across all training years ranges from 9.45 per cent to 30.3 per cent in Wales, whilst those trainees working solely in Northern Ireland are around 19 per cent worse off than if they had undertaken their training in England.

We are acutely aware of a concerning pay disparity among dental trainees

Professor Grant McIntyre

Professor Grant McIntyre, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, which represents dentists across the UK, said: “We are acutely aware of a concerning pay disparity among dental trainees, which is deterring people from taking up specific jobs in dental care while trying to take the next steps on the career ladder.

“The issue is particularly prevalent in Wales and Northern Ireland, where many who accept positions in the country are paid less than their counterparts in England and Scotland.

“Consequently, dental trainees often relocate to areas with higher salaries, leaving a significant gap in the provision of core dental services. This becomes most acute in the pre-consultant years, impacting patient care at the specialist trainee level.”

Amid the cost of living crisis, the current situation has led to a shortage of dental trainees in Wales, as professionals opt for opportunities in England and elsewhere. 

Ahead of the recruitment window in January, the Faculty is hopeful that decision-makers will take swift action to rectify the pay disparities, fostering a supportive environment for dental professionals and improving overall patient care.

Professor McIntyre added: “The reduced number of dental trainees in Wales at the moment is a direct result of the fact that they will be offered greater pay for the same grade somewhere in England.

“It then becomes a poor recruitment cycle, and a year goes by before anything can be done leaving patients without the dental care that they need.

“We would encourage the respective governments across the UK nations to factor this issue into their discussions around pay and conditions among healthcare professionals.”

Katie Hurst, Member of RCSEd Council and Chair of the Trainees Committee, said: “Sadly we have noticed significant inequalities in pay for medical trainees, especially when it comes to shaping the future of dental care.

“These pay discrepancies among dental trainees are not only discouraging professionals from pursuing vital roles in dentistry but are also creating a concerning gap in patient care. This issue, exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis, is driving professionals away from areas with lower salaries, impacting the availability of core dental services.

“Every dental professional, regardless of their location within the UK, deserves fair pay for their dedication and expertise. We urge decision-makers to address these disparities swiftly, ensuring that a supportive and equitable environment is created for dental professionals. Only then can we secure the future of dentistry and guarantee patients access to essential treatment.”


Tags: Pay gap / RCSEd

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