Majority of dental nurses earn less that £20k

A survey into the salaries of dental nurses in the UK, conducted by BADN at the end of 2009, shows that the majority of dental nurses are earning less than £20,000 a year.

The majority of dental nurses who participated in the survey had been working in dental nursing for more than 10 years (60%), worked more than 35 hours a week (55%), in General Practice (63%), and earned between £10,000 and £20,000 a year (62%).

Dental nurse salaries are still calculated by the hour (53%), rather than as an annual salary (32%), and are paid monthly (94%) into a bank account (87%), although one per cent are still paid in cash.

Nearly a fifth (17%) have second jobs, and more than a third (35%) are the sole or primary earners in their household.

Other findings:
• 71% of registered dental nurses pay their own GDC registration fees
• 92% of BADN members pay their own BADN membership fees
• 34% of student dental nurses pay their own training costs
• 45% of employers make no contribution towards CPD costs; only 15% cover all costs associated with CPD
• 92% of employers do not provide any additional benefits, such as health insurance, pensions, childcare vouchers, etc
• 32% of registered dental nurses do not have their own indemnity cover
• 18% of registered dental nurses have no indemnity cover at all.


‘We were shocked, but not particularly surprised, at the results of the survey,’ said BADN president Sue Bruckel.

‘What is particularly disturbing is that the majority of the respondents were full time, fairly senior, dental nurses with more than 10 years experience – and the salaries are still well below the median pay for full-time employees in the UK of around £25,500*, according to ASHE and less than half the median pay for full-time ‘health professionals’ of around £53,500.

‘We discovered that most part time dental nurses, or those who are younger or in more junior posts, were reluctant to participate in the survey because their salaries were so low. Of course, had these dental nurses actually participated, the results would have been even more damning, and shown more fully the exploitation of an predominantly female workforce, who are now registered healthcare professionals with the attendant additional costs.

‘What is particularly disturbing is the number of dental nurses working without adequate, or in some cases any, indemnity cover. BADN included indemnity cover in its Full Membership package so dental nurses wouldn’t have the hassle of having to research the subject themselves, and because economies of scale mean we can obtain cover at a very low premium.

‘BADN will be offering free money boxes to BADN members who visit our stand at the Dental Technology Show, the BDA Conference, Dental Showcase and the National Dental Nursing Conference to encourage them to save £3.50 each week to cover the cost of BADN membership and the GDC registration fee.

‘In the meantime, BADN will continue to lobby for a reduction in the GDC registration fee for dental nurses. BADN chief executive Pam Swain and I shall be meeting with the GDC’s new chair Alison Lockyer and interim chief executive Alison White to present them with full details of our survey and a firm request that the matter of dental nurse registration fees be put at the top of the GDC agenda.’

The Dental Technology Show is at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on 7 and 8 May; the BDA Conference and Exhibition in Liverpool on 20-22 May; Dental Showcase at ExCel, London on 14-16 October and the National Dental Nursing Conference at the Blackpool Hilton on 26 and 27 November.

• The survey was carried out at the end of 2009, using the CVENT On-Line Survey System.  Both BADN members and non-members were invited to participate, by means of an email invitation or through a link on the BADN website and the BADN Facebook Group. Participants were also able to forward an invitation to colleagues.
* According to The Poverty Site (, the low income threshold (or “poverty line”) is 60% or less of the median British household income.  This is calculated AFTER income and council tax and housing costs have been deducted.

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