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Pay uplift delays are unacceptable

The unacceptable delays to the application of the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB)'s recommended uplift in Northern Ireland is something that the Review Body has itself noted in recent reports.

Despite the earlier-than-usual setting of the Public Sector Pay Policy, and the Health Minister committing to try to expedite payments this year, once again the local dysfunctional budgetary process has ensured pay reviews are on track to be paid a whole year late, at odds with the situation in other parts of the UK.

We've made clear that there is no excuse for such tardiness. This is a national process that is highly predictable, it adopts similar timescales each year and should be accounted for. Comprehensive written evidence relating to this pay round was supplied by BDA to the Pay review body back in January of this year, as well as a subsequent oral submission which included strong representation of the pertinent issues relating to Northern Ireland. Yet we find ourselves in the process of finalising our written evidence for next year's pay round, while the uplift for 21/22 has still not been implemented.

Timely payment of annual uplifts is intrinsic to the integrity of the pay review process. However, the pressures in General Practice are such that this in itself is not going to be sufficient to safeguard the sustainability and financial viability of Health Service dentistry.

Only by a combination of incremental fixes to address historic deficiencies in dental remuneration, through initiatives we hope will be progressed via the GDS Rebuilding Stakeholder Group, combined with fundamental Contract reform, will we be able to make the GDS financially viable for the benefit of the public and practitioners alike.

We will continue to apply pressure on these important issues over the coming months.