High Street dentists cast adrift in government support package

10 April 2020
2 min read

The British Dental Association (BDA) has urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to reassess his deal for the self-employed or see the viability of the dental service fatally undermined – as new evidence suggests over three-quarters of dentists will receive no support from the Treasury scheme, with some left with zero income for the foreseeable future.

A BDA poll of more than 6000 self-employed dentists suggests over 75% will be ineligible for support from the government which is capped to £50,000. While some will get limited support from the NHS, those in private practice will not be able to access financial help. 

Almost half (46.2%) of these dentists, operating as self-employed independent contractors, report they earned just above the government’s arbitrary threshold in the last year – between £50-75,000, considerably less than the salary of a Member of Parliament.

While NHS England has agreed to pass on a proportion of the budget they give to practices for NHS work to keep them afloat, the majority of practices are reliant on a mix of NHS and private work, leaving them exposed to potentially crippling losses.

The funds provided when the NHS budget is unlocked will first have to cover the costs of employed administrative staff, nurses and overheads, before any reaches these dentists. Private dentists are totally exposed, even though the sector is now larger and effectively props up NHS care. The future of NHS dentistry depends on the cross-subsidies made by private sector colleagues in terms of both infrastructure and overheads.

In an open letter to the Chancellor the BDA have stressed that failure to offer concessions could decimate the service. They are calling for the earnings threshold to be raised or removed, and for support to also be extended to practitioners operating as limited companies who currently receive no support, regardless of their income level.

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said: 'The Chancellor needs to think again, and set out a fair approach for the self-employed.

'The dentists losing out are not the super-rich. They are frontline health professionals, who don’t know where their next pay cheque is coming from, or if they will have jobs to return to.

'Unless we see action many will face hardship, and a service millions depend on may never recover.'

BDA poll of taxable earnings for self-employed dentists (total earnings minus total expenses):

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