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Running on fumes: data on dentists' earning

Blog Author Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen

Blog Date 30/08/2018

​Austerity is meant to be over in the NHS. Yet the latest data on dentists' earnings is a timely reminder of how far Ministers need to go to guarantee its future.

When the spreadsheets land it feels like Ground Hog Day.


Once again real incomes for associates and practice owners, which ever nation you make your home have yet to show any meaningful signs of recovery to pre-crisis levels. 


In England and Wales we have seen an unprecedented drop has seen real incomes for both practice-owners and associates over the last decade. It's an eye watering amount (£47,000 and £23,000 respectively) that has no precedent in the UK public sector.

And all the while the costs facing individual practitioners for regulatory compliance and registration have gone up by well over 1000%.

It's a story that raises existential questions about this service in each of the UK nations.






The message to date has been do more with less. And there are colleagues who have qualified since the financial crisis who have known nothing different. And perhaps that's why do many appear to be turning away from the NHS.

Certainly, other new data on morale is telling another all too familiar story.

Positivity among the profession is in short supply. It's been on the slide for six consecutive years, and in all nations, low morale appears to go hand in hand with higher NHS commitments.

Across the UK NHS dentistry is running on fumes, and we know this can't go on indefinitely.


The results are predictable: morale at an all-time low, recruitment and retention problems mounting, and patients waiting longer or travelling further for care.

Underfunding and failure to deliver meaningful reform has left the very sustainability of this service in doubt.

Matt Hancock has pledged to put prevention at the heart of his approach to the health service. In the service's 70th year he must recognise that we can't have NHS dentistry without NHS dentists.


Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, Chair

General Dental Practice Committee


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