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DDRB implementation update

Pay uplift determinations have recently been made by the Minister of Health relating to the 2023/24 pay round.

Ann McAreavey, Ciara Gallagher, Peter Crooks

We take a closer look at what those pay awards represent, and the latest on timescales for the implementation.

Community Dental Services and Hospital Dental Services

  • The Department of Health (DoH) has formally approved the 2023/24 DDRB recommendation of a 6% pay uplift for salaried dentists including hospital dentists and dentists working in the Community Dental Services (CDS). Uplifted pay will be backdated to April 2023
  • Doctors and Dentists in training to receive an additional £1,250 on top of the 6% uplift, as per the DDRB recommendation
  • DoH issued a pay circular on 10 April advising Health and Social Care (HSC) employers of uplift arrangements and new pay scales.

Salaried dentists have waited a very long time for this pay award to be approved. Although it is welcomed that a pay deal has been accepted, this is tempered with disappointment that once again our colleagues in other nations received pay increases months ago.

Once again our colleagues in other nations received pay increases months ago.

We understand that it could take a further 12 weeks to work through the necessary IT changes to implement these awards and reach pay packets. That really is not acceptable. Morale due to work pressure in the CDS remains low, as shown by our recent DDRB evidence. The slow pace to implement payments year on year has led to many colleagues feeling undervalued and disheartened.

Ann McAreavey, Chair of BDA NI Community Dentists Committee

General Dental Services

  • On 27 March, the Health Minister confirmed a 6.47% uplift will be applied for 2023/24 only, while the SDR will be uplifted by a lower 4.92% recurrent. The Business Services Organisation (BSO) will make a separate additional back payment of 1.55% for 2023/24
  • This announcement was included with the DoH £9.2m ‘Patient Access Scheme’ to apply to 2024/25, full details of which have still not yet been shared with the profession

It is much too little, way too late.

We have entered a new financial year and have only just received confirmation of the pay uplift for the previous year. The ‘costs’ formula used to determine this pay is outdated, wholly inaccurate, and delivers yet another pay cut. The headline rate disappears even before it has been delivered and to add insult to injury, we are facing the prospect of yet more delay in receiving backdated funds.

Furthermore, details of the DoH £9.2m Patient Access Scheme announced over three weeks ago, to the public first and then to the wider profession, have yet to be shared with us, the clinicians delivering the care. It is much too little, way too late.

Ciara Gallagher, Chair of BDA NI Dental Practice Committee

A process fraught with unacceptable delay

What has unfolded this year in how the DDRB process has been applied in Northern Ireland has been nothing less than shambolic. ‘No government and no budget’ delayed a decision being taken on the uplift from last July until recent days; practitioners are now facing the prospect of further lengthy delays in receiving backpay owing to them, not least at a time when they are struggling to offset increased costs to provide care. And, in a worrying new departure, our Department has applied a lower recurrent uplift to the SDR based on what they refer to as ‘affordability’ grounds, applying an unacceptable variation to DDRB’s recommendation and showing no understanding of its impact on practitioners.

We are at the point where 2023/24 pay uplifts are being implemented over a year late, at a time when we will soon be anticipating DDRB’s recommendations for 2024/25 being published.

How the DDRB process has been applied in Northern Ireland has been nothing less than shambolic.

As Chair of RBEC, I will continue to highlight the wholly unacceptable delays to how this process is applied in Northern Ireland. We will continue to robustly challenge where DoH has failed to apply key aspects of this process appropriately. Practitioners here deserve no less.

Peter Crooks, Chair BDA Review Body Evidence Committee (RBEC) & Vice-Chair BDA Principal Executive Committee