This week NHS Digital revealed the latest official figures on GDPs earnings and expenses.
The numbers for 2014/15 aren’t a million miles from where they were in 2013/14.
So is our profession finally turning a corner? Well the short answer is no.
We’ve taken the long view. What these figures show is that associates and practice owners in England and Wales have seen taxable income fall by 35% in real terms over the last decade.
This money matters. Every penny of investment NHS dentistry receives comes from dentists’ own pockets. This unprecedented collapse in real incomes has a real impact on our ability to deliver the improvements in facilities, equipment, and the training that our patients deserve.
Unlike our medical colleagues GDPs have not received any capital investment from central government – our taxable income is the only pot of money going when it comes to investment. And when we’re squeezed, so is the service that we deliver.
It’s a story that’s replicated in Scotland and Northern Ireland, with falls in real terms income of over a quarter since 2009, among both associates and practice owners.
Even in an era of public sector ‘pay restraint’ these falls are unprecedented.
So it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that practices in Wales are reporting it’s harder and harder to recruit associates.
NHS dentistry has been dogged by underinvestment. We have been singled out for cuts that are irresponsible, unsustainable, and carry consequences for millions of NHS patients.
It’s time for a responsible approach to funding. One that doesn’t hinge on our patients putting in more through charges, just so ministers can pay less.Henrik Overgaard-NielsenChair, BDA General Dental Practice Committee
NHS dental charges: a tax on health
The Government is asking patients in England to pay more towards their NHS dental treatment costs through charges, while they pay less. Write to your MP expressing your views on patient charges, and tell us your story: NHS dental charges: a tax on health.