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​BDA to DDRB: Pay cuts have consequences

16 November 2015

The British Dental Association has said that real terms cuts to dentists' pay will undermine patient care, as part of its oral evidence to the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB) for 2016/17.

Eddie Crouch, the BDA's Vice Chair and Chair of its Review Body Evidence Committee, said:

"The rhetoric and the reality on dentists' pay couldn't be any further apart. As a profession we are not looking at 'minimal' rises or even pay 'freezes'. Any talk of 'pay restraint' for dentists is simply a euphemism for deep and sustained pay cuts. All the official evidence tells precisely the same story. We are not 'all in this together', and our profession should not be expected to take a disproportionate hit to bail out a cash strapped NHS.

"Let's be clear these cuts have consequences. Patients quite rightly demand ever higher standards of care, and that requires a well-trained and highly-motivated team, armed with the best in equipment and materials. We are reaching a point where delivering this on ever-diminishing funds will no longer be possible.

"Today colleagues from all the home nations and crafts spoke with one voice. Their message was simple: we can't go on like this."

Key points highlighted in the BDA's official evidence are:

  • Public confidence in NHS dentistry is high and quite rightly needs to remain so;
  • Practices are focusing their finances on retaining highly prized practice staff to underpin the dentist workforce, however, some practitioners are not receiving pay increases as a result;
  • Taxable incomes continue to remain at significantly lower levels than 2008/9;
  • Time spent on non-clinical activity continues to increase putting at risk the time available to see patients and access to NHS services;
  • Morale and motivation continues to be very low across the UK, particularly in Northern Ireland;
  • Dentist retention rates are not as good as they could be and 30 per cent of associates intend to increase the amount of private care they provide;
  • There are problems in recruiting associates in some areas, particularly Wales;
  • A third of practice owners plan to retire in the next five years and six per cent of dentists want to leave dentistry and work in another sector within the next five years;
  • There are recruitment problems across the community dental services but particularly in specialist roles;
  • Low NHS fees for the work required.   For an £8.60 fee, Scottish dentists must examine their patient's mouths for dental decay, missing teeth, existing restorations, tooth wear, evaluate and record their gum condition, perform a cancer screening and disease check of their cheeks, tongue, throat, lips, face, neck, and jaw joints, perhaps take an x-ray, come to a diagnosis, provide a treatment plan, discuss it with the patient and then write up the notes to GDC standards. 

About the BDA

The British Dental Association (BDA) is the professional association and trade union for dentists in the UK. It represents dentists working in general practice, in community and hospital settings, in academia and research, and in the armed forces, and includes dental students. The BDA promotes members’ interests, advances the science, arts and ethics of dentistry, and contributes towards improving the nation's oral health.

For further information, please contact the BDA's media team on 0207 563 4145/46 or visit the BDA's news centre. You can also follow news from the BDA on Twitter. Membership packages reflect the varied needs of dentists.