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​Pay squeeze puts NHS dentistry in Wales under pressure

28 March 2017

The British Dental Association Wales has said a below inflation pay uplift is putting NHS dentistry in Wales at greater risk, following the report of the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB) for 2017/18. 

The Welsh government has confirmed high streets dentists will be offered a 1.44% increase, in expectation they will seek further efficiency savings. The report has also recommended that salaried dentists receive a 1% pay increase in 2017-18.

Dentists' leaders have dismissed the notion that Welsh dentists can achieve any further efficiencies. Unlike GPs, NHS dentists in Wales do not receive additional support to deliver needed investment in practices. Both associates and practice owners in Wales have seen taxable income fall by 35% in real terms over the last decade.

BDA Wales has argued that there was no justification for the recent NHS dental charge increases, particularly given that dental contract 'clawback' (penalties incurred if dentists don't meet stringent government targets) by Health Boards has doubled in the last two years, short-changing NHS dentistry in Wales upwards of £6 million in 2015-16.

Katrina Clarke, Chair of the Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, said:

"If the Welsh Assembly is serious about improving the nation's oral health then it must start by putting its money where its mouth is instead of relying increasingly on inflated patient charges to fund NHS dentistry.

"NHS dentistry in Wales is being stretched to breaking point. We are already facing a recruitment crisis, and even more worryingly we are seeing practices closing thereby making it harder for patients to access dental care.

"There is no further scope for savings, and this increase will not stop more practices closing. NHS practices increasingly cannot balance the books given the spiralling costs of running dental practices."

David Johnson, Chair of the Welsh Committee for Community Dentists, said:

"This ongoing pay restraint is not only demoralising for hard working dentists but underinvestment in community services could have lasting consequences for oral health provision for the most vulnerable people in Wales."

About the BDA

The British Dental Association (BDA) is the voice of dentists and dental students in the UK. We bring dentists together, support our members through advice and education, and represent their interests. As a trade union and professional body, we represent all fields of dentistry including general practice, community dental services, the armed forces, hospitals, academia, public health and research. We are owned and run by our members and all our income is reinvested for the benefit of the profession.

You can also follow news from the BDA on Twitter. Membership packages reflect the varied needs of dentists.