The BDA delegation to DDRB, pictured from left to right: Eddie Crouch, Vice-Chair BDA Principal Executive Committee, David McColl, Chair Scottish Dental Practice Committee, Henrik Overgaard Nielsen, Chair, General Dental Practice Committee, Charlotte Waite, Chair, England Community Dental Services Committee, Richard Graham, Chair Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee and Tom Bysouth, Chair, Welsh Dental Practice Committee
On Monday 1 April, I went to give oral evidence to the Doctors and Dentists Pay Review Board (DDRB) on behalf of the dentists of Wales.
The DDRB is the organisation which provides a recommendation to Government as to the pay uplift for the upcoming year. They do though tell us they have to 'operate within the governments' public sector pay policies', which leads us all to wonder as to their level of true independence.
I, along with colleagues from the four nations, spoke of the recruitment and retention crisis we face in all spheres of dentistry, and the impact this is having on dentists, their practices and their patients.
We listed countless examples of practice closures, the problems around clawback and gave examples of where there were no takers for contract tenders.
We spoke of the pernicious environment of ever increasing regulation, the fear of litigation and under-claiming.
And we reported on the stress being experienced by dentists in the community dental services, who in England are having to deal with complex tender arrangements, and in Wales are being made to complete FP17 returns – a form which does nothing to show the true complexity of the service they provide.
We highlighted the problems dentists are encountering with their pension arrangements, which in many cases pushes experienced and valued dentists away from providing NHS care, further worsening the growing issues within recruitment and retention.
I said that in Wales, we are in the early stages of contract reform, which we are all hopeful will help improve the NHS offer, but simply waiting to see where that goes is not enough - action is needed now, and a real uplift needs to be delivered to help combat the fall in income over the last 10 years.
Last year in Wales, the overall uplift was 2.77%, a full implementation of the DDRB-recommended uplift from Welsh Government.
This year we called for a minimum recommendation for uplift of 5% (2% plus 3% RPI) to make inroads to improving the sustainability of NHS dental care.
The DDRB have in their gift an opportunity to make a real difference to NHS dental practice by making a real recommendation on a contract uplift.
I ask them to be bold - to make a recommendation that will make NHS dentistry a viable and attractive option, which in doing so will help reduce demands on other sections of the NHS and result in a real improvement in population health. I hope they take up this challenge.
We will continue to make the case on your behalf.
Tom Bysouth, Chair
Welsh Dental Practice Committee
BDA Wales campaigns for the interests of all dentists working in Wales.
With our elected committee members, we negotiate on behalf of the profession on terms and conditions, pay and contracts: join us.