Failure to halt record-breaking cuts to real incomes will fuel exodus from NHS

26 July 2022

The British Dental Association (BDA) has warned the derisory pay uplifts offered to dentists - 4.5 per cent - will only accelerate the workforce crisis facing NHS dentistry across the UK. 

Dentists have seen their real incomes collapse by nearly 40 per cent since the financial crash, with analysis of data from across the public sector and health professionals indicating the fall has no parallel in the UK public sector. 

Official data for 2020/21 is yet to be published, but dental accountants NASDAL have indicated a further fall in earnings – in cash terms – of over 10 per cent for typical dentists.

Westminster's Health and Social Care Committee was warned in May 2022 that NHS dentistry faced a 'slow death', with endemic recruitment and retention problems, and thousands of dentists having left the service since lockdown. While typical levels of pay are only negligibly higher in the private sector, dentists are afforded greater time with patients, without the pressures of working to 'tick boxes and targets' model of the discredited NHS contract.

The BDA has said it now intends to canvass its membership to assess the appetite for a full range of action in response. 

Peter Crooks, deputy chair of the BDA said, "For a decade we've seen euphemisms of 'pay restraint' and 'efficiency savings' amount to the deepest pay cuts in the public sector. 

"This derisory offer will only serve to give dentists more reasons to reconsider their future in the NHS, and millions of patients will pay the price."

The Scottish Government has now confirmed it will follow the Westminster Government with a 4.5 per cent uplift. 

The Welsh government has broadcast a shortfall in funds, and ministers have pledged to speak to trade unions ahead of confirming their plans. 

In Northern Ireland, Health Minister Robin Swann has indicated any pay increases for health workers cannot be implemented without an agreed Stormont budget, which means a delay until a new Executive is in place.