Dental workforce less reliant on NHS

Figures published recently by the Information Centre highlight a significant trend of dentists’ earnings coming from sources other than NHS dentistry, according to the British Dental Association.

The Dental Earnings and Expenses Report 2005/06, which reflects the net incomes of dental practitioners in Great Britain from NHS dentistry, private dentistry and other sources, shows that the proportion derived from NHS work is decreasing.

In 2005-06, less than 42% of the earnings of GDS non-associates (practitioners holding a general dental services contract who own their surgeries and work in them as the sole dentist) came from the NHS, according to the figures. In 1999-2000, more than 58% of dentists’ total earnings came from the NHS.

BDA chief executive Peter Ward said: ‘The year to which this report refers was a difficult period for NHS dentistry that led to the implementation of an untried and untested new dental contract in England and Wales and the loss of approximately 2,000 practitioners to the service. However, the loss of those practitioners does not tell the full story.

‘What these figures show is the dental workforce as a whole looking to a future in which they felt less and less able to rely on the NHS and adjusting the balance of their work accordingly. At the same time, demand for private care, and the wider range of treatments it offers, increased.

‘The problems with NHS dentistry that existed in this period have been exacerbated by the reforms. A target-driven system has been created that limits the amount of NHS dentistry that primary care trusts and local health boards can fund. The result is that the millions of people who want to access NHS dental care are still unable to do so.’

The report also underlines the small gap between the earnings of dentists who earn the majority of their income from NHS or private care. It shows that GDS non-associates who derived the majority of their income from the NHS received a net income before tax of £96,159, while counterparts earning most of their income from private dentistry received a net income before tax of £101,256.

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