Two reports published by the NHS Information Centre today (26 October 2012) underline the scale of the challenge facing general dental practitioners in Scotland and emphasise the need for dental care to be fully supported, the British Dental Association (BDA) believes.
The Dental Earnings and Expenses and Dental Working Hours reports paint a picture of a profession facing up to the challenge of caring for patients in Scotland by increasing its commitment to NHS care, coping with an increasing burden of non-clinical demands and struggling with increasing expenses, but, despite its efforts, seeing incomes falling.
The earnings and expenses report shows that average taxable income for self-employed dentists working in general dental services in Scotland fell by 7.6 per cent from £79,300 in the 2009/10 financial year to £73,300 in the following twelve months. In the same period dental practice owners saw their average business expenses increase by more than £10,000.
The working hours report, meanwhile, shows the percentage of time spent providing NHS care increased from 76.1 per cent in 2008/09 to 79.7 per cent in 2011/12. Over the same period the percentage of the average dentist’s time spent on non-clinical activity rose slightly from 13.9 per cent to 14.5 per cent, according to the statistics.
Dr Robert Donald, the Chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee (SDPC), said:
“These reports underline the very challenging circumstances confronting dentists in Scotland and serve as a reminder to the Scottish Government of the importance of practitioners being fully supported as they care for patients.
“Recent years have seen a number of constructive initiatives, including Childsmile and the General Dental Practice Allowance, that the profession feels are making a positive difference in the fight against the oral health inequalities that persist in Scotland. Support for these initiatives must continue.
“The Government must consider these Information Centre reports very carefully. Dentists recognise the pressures facing the public purse, but oral health is something that must be invested in over time. It’s important that is not only remembered, but also acted on.”
The reports are available on the NHS Information Centre website