Reports published today (3 October 2012) confirm that dental care in Northern Ireland is coming under increasing regulatory and financial pressures, the British Dental Association (BDA) believes.
The reports highlight falling incomes and the continuing increase in the time dentists are required to spend away from treating patients to comply with the regulatory burden on practices. Decreasing incomes mean that less money is available to invest in surgeries and the equipment to go in them.
The percentage of dentists’ time spent on non-clinical activities has grown from 14.5 per cent of the working week in 2008/09 to 20.3 per cent in 2011/12, according to the Dental Working Hours Northern Ireland report. The same period has seen dentists lengthen their working week and shift the balance of their practising lives to devote a greater proportion of their time to Health Service care, the report also shows. A second report, Dental Earnings and Expenses, confirms that dentists’ incomes in Northern Ireland fell between 2009/10 and 2010/11.
Dr Peter Crooks, Chair of the BDA’s Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee, said:
“These reports confirm what every dentist across Northern Ireland knows to be true. They show that dentists are working longer hours but are increasingly being tied up in red tape that takes them away from the essential work of providing care to patients, and that their ability to invest in their premises is suffering as incomes fall. This is a double whammy for patients and practitioners alike.
“Appallingly, against this backdrop, the funding for dentistry has been frozen. It’s time for Government to recognise the challenges facing dental practice, and work with, rather than against, dentists as they work hard to care for our communities’ oral health.”
The reports are available on the Information Centre website.
Details of the BDA’s campaign against funding restrictions are available here.
Regulation and funding were two of the key concerns raised by the BDA in its manifesto for the 2011 Northern Ireland Assembly election.