The British Dental Association (BDA) has called on Government to deliver a consistent approach to pay, following confirmation of an above inflation pay award from Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP.
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 will see a 2.5% uplift in basic pay, but with no increase in their clinical excellence awards, meaning an overall uplift of 2.35%.
The pay award meets the recommendations made in the 47th report of the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB) in full, and is the first since 2008/9 in England above 2%, and the first above-inflation increase since 2005/6.
The BDA have supplied DDRB with evidence of the deteriorating situation on recruitment and retention in general dental services across England, with 75% of NHS practices reporting they are struggling to fill vacancies last year - rising to 84% among those with the highest NHS commitments. 59% of NHS dentists have reported plans to leave the service or scale down commitment in the next 5 years, rising to 67% among those doing the most NHS work.
The BDA has focused press and political attention on how failure to deliver reform combined with a 35% real-terms collapse in practitioner incomes is now jeopardising the long-term sustainability of NHS dentistry. It has insisted that today's increase must not be a one-off, and should send a clear signal to devolved administrations. BDA Vice Chair Eddie Crouch said: 'Pay uplifts on the right side of inflation shouldn't be exceptional and represent a bare minimum in terms of government's duty of care to NHS dentists.
'We have taken evidence from our members on a recruitment and retention crisis to pay review bodies, to the press, and parliamentarians. We have shown how a decade of pay restraint has put the future of this service in doubt. And we will not change tack.
'This approach cannot be a one-off, or reserved for special occasions. Nor does it undo the damage wrought by ten years of cuts.
'Colleagues will have heard the death knell for austerity pay policy rung out before. NHS dentistry now requires consistency and investment, so all providers and performers can see the benefit.'
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2.5% pay award: BDA calls for consistency on above-inflation uplifts. BDJ In Pract 32, 5 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41404-019-0136-y