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The 2.5% solution?: Fair pay uplifts cannot be a one-off

Blog Author Eddie Crouch

Blog Date 31/07/2019

Photo credit: Getty Images

GDS, CDS, HDS – it doesn’t matter where you work there are reasons to be cheerful this week if you’re a dentist working in the NHS in England.

Because for thousands of colleagues who graduated since 2010 this could be the one of only times an uplift has been offered on the right side of inflation.

Why does it matter?

It’s quite simple. Below-inflation pay uplifts represent a pay cut.

When pay does not rise to keep pace with the mounting cost of living its money out of your pocket. And we’ve seen a decade of it.

That’s why we go all out to gather evidence directly from our members, to report, to lobby and to show the real impact austerity pay has had on our members, and the care they can provide for their patients.

Inflation today stands at 2%. And that means this could well be the first time many colleagues will actually see a real pay rise.

We’ve taken the argument directly to the pay review board, to MPs, to Ministers, and to the press.

This is headway. But this sort of increase can’t be reserved for special occasions: we believe it’s the bare minimum in terms of any government's duty of care to NHS dentists.

What does it mean for you?  

The announcement will see 2.5% uplift on pay backdated to April, with no staging. 

This will apply to community dentists, with a final uplift to contract values for general dental practitioners to be confirmed following a consultation on expenses.

Hospital dentists should see a 2.5% uplift in basic pay, but with no increase in their clinical excellence awards, consultants will see an overall uplift of 2.35%. There could be a further uplift for associate specialists subject to contractual reform.

Hospital trainees on the recently (voted on/accepted) 2016 contract will receive guaranteed uplifts of 2% per year for the next four years (which means that they will not be subject to DDRB uplifts in that time.)

What about associates?

The uplift and the recommendation it was based on do not relate directly to the pay of associate dentists working in the NHS.

But associates in England will reasonably look to the award for an indication of an expected uplift in their own income.

Practice income has been under huge pressure for a number of years and any decision on pay increases for associates will, of course, reflect local business circumstances, so will be a matter for direct negotiation.

But we expect practices to recognise that associate income has also declined significantly in real terms, and to reflect the award in associate pay wherever possible.

Conversations need to take place. If you’re a principal speak to your associates. If you are an associate speak to your practice owner.  

This rising tide should lift all boats. We have guidance on starting that conversation.

What’s next?

We will press on expenses for GDPs. What we want to see from here is consistency.

We have set out to focus attention on how failure to deliver reform combined with a 35% real-terms collapse in practitioner incomes is jeopardising the very sustainability of NHS dentistry. And we will not let up. 

This uplift cannot be a one-off, and should also send a clear signal to the devolved administrations across the UK.

Eddie Crouch, Vice Chair 
BDA Principal Executive Committee

Working for you

We will continue to campaign for a fairer deal on dentists' pay. If you'd like to be kept up to date with our progress:

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