Uproar over seniority pay cut for dentists

The British Dental Association (BDA) has written to dentistry Minister Earl Howe to demand an urgent meeting to make progress on a Department of Health decision to withdraw Seniority Pay for General Dental Practitioners (GDPs) in England reaching the age of 55 after 1 April 2011.

The letter, from General Dental Practice Committee (GDPC) chair John Milne, sets out the profession’s frustration at an apparent lack of progress on, or communication about, the proposals and expresses the profession’s anger about the situation.

It also calls on the minister to reinstate the scheme until an alternative is developed, arguing that dentists are being treated very unfairly at a time when working constructively with Government on NHS reform.

The letter to Earl Howe follows earlier correspondence from the BDA which set out the unacceptability of the proposal to withdraw the scheme for new entrants.

John Milne, chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, said: ‘We have repeatedly made clear our unhappiness at the prospect that dentists who have contributed to this scheme throughout their careers will not be able to benefit from it and stressed the need for alternative arrangements to be developed.

‘We have, so far, been patient in our pursuit of a solution to a complex problem, but the continued delay in resolving it is unacceptable and frustrating. Significantly, it could also lead to many experienced colleagues considering retirement and being lost to the NHS at a time when they are vital. It is important that this is addressed as a matter of urgency and we are therefore seeking direct intervention by the minister.’

In a comment piece which pre-dates today’s BDA announcement – and that appears in this week’s issue of Dentistry magazine – news correspondent, Michael Watson, writes: ‘Are you approaching your 55th birthday? Expecting a nice present from your PCT in the form of seniority payments? Think again.

‘The scheme has quietly been scrapped for those reaching the magic age, although those over 55, who are receiving them, will continue to do so. When was this announced you might ask. It wasn’t. Did you miss the BDA’s protest? No, because they haven’t protested, not in public anyway, although there have been talks about it.

You can read the rest of his column in the issue out this week.

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