Change is coming in Scotland. In January, the Scottish Government published its long-awaited Oral Health Improvement Plan – which could lead to the biggest shake-up of NHS dental services in decades. While aspects of the plan are to be welcomed – such as the roll out of the Childsmile programme to all child groups and the development of an Oral Health Risk Assessment – there are a number of key actions and proposals within the document which are vague and for which more detail is required. These include changes to the balance of payments to GDPs and dental practices.
We want to know what our members in Scotland think of the plan, and will shortly be asking them to take part in a survey to provide us with their views on the nuts and bolts of the government's strategy.
The various ambitions outlined in the plan may be impossible to deliver without new investment. Our profession remains under pressure from all sides, and 1% pay uplifts for GDPs, and 2.25% hikes on item of service fees are not cushioning the blow. Recruitment and retention problems are mounting, and our submission to the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB) raises real questions about the sustainability of the service. We need to see change in Scotland – above inflation uplifts, the restoration of NHS commitment payments to throw a lifeline to associates, and real support from government towards the crippling cost of indemnity.
Our members have also painted a picture of low and ebbing morale. Now two in five practices are struggling to recruit, and consultant vacancies are proving hard to fill. More than half of associates would not recommend dentistry as a career – rising to 62% among practice owners, the highest figure in the UK. And in the face of an ageing population, an entire generation of senior Public Dental Service staff are now heading for retirement without like-for-like replacements being sought.
We will use the survey results to provide evidence on where dentistry in Scotland is heading, and to help make the case for positive change. Your views will help to inform BDA Scotland's ongoing negotiations with Scottish Government on improving oral health in Scotland.
Vice Chair, Scottish Council
Dentists' pay: What we do for you
Each year we use our evidence to fight for a fairer pay for associates, practice owners, community dentists, PDS, and we call for pay parity for dental clinical academics.
We work across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and provide evidence to the Governments on your behalf.
We want an end to the public sector pay cap for doctors and dentists – we believe the continued decline in income for dentists is affecting not just the profession, but the access to care dentists can provide for patients.