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Dentists: Government should expect no applause for real pay cut

The British Dental Association has warned the UK Government's below inflation pay awards will undermine efforts to bring NHS dentistry back from the brink.

The government has accepted the recommendation of the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration for a below inflation 6% uplift and follows widespread speculation Ministers would refuse to honour it.

There is still no confirmation on increases for practice expenses, and with the cost of delivering NHS care skyrocketing the BDA stress this will only fuel the exodus from the NHS. Official data shows real incomes for typical dentists have fallen by up to 40% - the highest levels in the UK public sector. From 2008/9-2020/21 real pay for a typical NHS dentist in England fell by 37%, from £67,800 to £42,847.

Over half (50.3%) of high street dentists responding to recent BDA surveys reported having reduced NHS commitments since the start of the pandemic. 74% stated their intention to reduce - or further reduce – their NHS work. This movement is not being tracked by official data, which counts heads, rather than commitment, and gives dentists who do just one NHS check-up a year the same weight as an NHS full-timer.

While the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan has set out ambitions to increase the number of dental students by 40% there are no tangible plans on retention for the current workforce. Government

pledges for a fast tracked 'recovery plan' for NHS dentistry have yet to bear fruit.

BDA Vice Chair Peter Crooks said:

"The government should not expect applause for begrudgingly delivering a below inflation pay award to dentists and doctors.

"We're already seeing NHS dentists delivering NHS care at a financial loss. All this decision will fuel is the mounting exodus from this service."