Internet Explorer and Edge browser users:
To download Word, Excel or PowerPoint files please right-click on the file you wish to download, and select 'Save target as...'

Setting dentists' pay: time for the cap to be lifted?

Blog Author David Westgarth

Blog Date 05/03/2018

BDJ in practice cover FebruaryI've often heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.


While the Oxford English Dictionary disagrees, it's not a stretch of the imagination to understand how that definition has evolved over time.


Perhaps the process of going insane involves someone playing at a slot machine for hours hoping their luck will change, only to find it never does.


Again, that is unlikely, but the idea of banging your head against a brick wall and being surprised when there's a massive egg-shaped lump on your skull is one the profession can probably relate to.


Ever since the financial crisis began in 2008, the recommendation for public sector pay has been capped at 1% uplift each year.  


Yet, every year the BDA gathers and submits evidence to the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB) on what it believes is a fair uplift, and every year the DDRB recommends this is 1%.


Groundhog Day comes to mind.


The remit of the DDRB is to collect evidence from those expecting pay awards and those that end up paying, and to judge the arguments, so that an independent body evaluate the evidence and make recommendations to the Governments of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales on pay uplifts for doctors and dentists.


They also should take into account the effect of pay on recruitment and retention and morale of the professions.


However, the DDRB also have within their remit a requirement to take into account the funds available to Health Departments as set out in Government expenditure limits.


Every year they receive a remit letter from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, on what that limitation is, which since 2008 has been either no pay rises or limited to 1% for public sector, and every year the DDRB report matches this request.


Does this feel truly independent?


That question is one of the reasons why at the LDC Conference Eddie Crouch, vice chair of the BDA's board (PEC), put forward a motion on behalf of Birmingham LDC that read:


'This Conference believes that until the limits of the Treasury on Public Sector Pay are lifted, there should be non-engagement with the DDRB which is clearly not independent. Instead, the BDA should negotiate directly with NHS England/DH and ballot the workforce on the offer made from these negotiations'.


I spoke to Eddie to get his feelings on this issue and to BDA representatives from other UK countries, to find out how dentists are feeling on the ground.




This blog is adapted from a piece published in the February 2018 issue of BDJ In Practice (pages 8-13).


David Westgarth

BDJ in Practice Editor


BDJ in Practice magazine

BDJ in Practice magazine is part of the BDJ portfolio, and is posted out to BDA members monthly, covering the latest issues, trends and information relevant to practising in dentistry today.