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Northern Ireland: We urge Health Minister to include dentists in imminent negotiations on pay

Now Stormont is back, we have written to Health Minister Robin Swann outlining the mounting pay issues impacting dentistry.

The newly installed Health Minister has stated his immediate priority of “initiating pay negotiations without delay”, writing to the trade unions and inviting them to early discussions. To date, we have received no invitation, so we sent a letter on Monday setting out the pay pressures colleagues across all dental services face and seeking involvement in forthcoming negotiations.

In our letter, we ask for assurances of rapid negotiations to address the raft of pay issues affecting the Community Dental Service (CDS), General Dental Service (GDS), and Hospital Dental Service (HDS). Alongside the pay issues we are also seeking clarity and assurances on Amalgam. Until direct application in NI is nullified, it remains a risk to the profession and to service delivery.

We highlighted our Open letter to Peter May submitted on 30 January, co-signed by 720 GDPs making it clear that Health Service dentistry is facing intolerable financial strain and needs urgent investment.

We draw attention to HDS colleagues who are at various stages of progressing industrial action. They require the immediate implementation of a pay award, plus action to address considerable pay erosion and pay disparity across all grades.

Pay is an increasingly important issue for CDS dentists. Alongside the impact of delayed pay awards, increased workforce pressures resulting from DoH failure to provide a workforce plan and grow headcount sufficiently to meet new pressures is impacting heavily on staff morale and wellbeing.

While we welcome the newly formed Executive’s desire to prioritise pay negotiations, we will do everything possible to press for dentists pay issues to feature.

We requested an early opportunity to meet with Minister Swann to discuss these issues further. This request has been accepted with a commitment to include us in any future negotiations on pay. We Will keep you updated as we seek progress on these important issues.