Pay drop puts dentists under ‘financial cosh’

New figures published by the NHS Information Centre today show a fall in dentists’ average taxable income of 5.2% in 2009-10 compared with 2008-09.

The average taxable income for all self-employed primary care dentists in England and Wales in 2009/10 was £84,900, compared to £89,600 in 2008/09, according to the report Dental Earnings and Expenses, England and Wales 2009/10.

The figures represent a significant pay cut and reflect increases in practice expenses of 3.1% over the period, following an increase of 7.6% in expenses in the previous year.
In the past year, expenses have continued to spiral, putting yet more pressure on family dental practices.

The reasons for the increases are multi-factorial, but include the rising cost of materials and equipment due to the value of the pound sterling against the Euro and US dollar, the price of precious metals widely used in dentistry, staff costs and the burden of regulation and red tape.
The BDA provides evidence each year to the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Pay Review Body and to the Department of Health on the costs of running dental practices and the resources needed to maintain a quality dental service.

Evidence on expenses for the year 2010-11 is being prepared now.

Dr John Milne, chair of the BDA’s general dental practice committee said: ‘This report shows that, while the government imposed a pay freeze, dentists are in fact suffering a pay cut.

‘It proves what we have been telling the Department of Health for some time. Dentists across England are working really hard to deliver high quality care for their patients. They are contending with a growing mountain of pointless bureaucracy and escalating costs on top of the effects of the efficiency savings imposed upon them.’

The report also shows that in 2009/10:

• About 1.5% of dentists (approximately 310) earned a taxable income of £300,000 or more, while the majority (55.8%) earned a taxable income of less than £75,000
• Dentists who worked in a practice but who did not hold a contract with a PCT in England or Local Health Board in Wales, earned on average £65,600 in taxable income, a 3.1% decrease compared to the 2008/09 average of £67,800
• Practising dentists who held a contract with a PCT or LHB to provide NHS dental services earned on average £128,000 in taxable income. Statistically, this is not significantly different to the average of £131,000 earned in 2008/09
• The percentage fall in average taxable income for dentists overall, which is larger than that for individual groups, may partly be explained by dentists moving between different contracting groups during this time period.

Today’s report also looks at earnings and expenses by the working patterns of the dentists, their age and gender, their level of orthodontic activity and the Strategic Health Authority in which they worked.

The report for England and Wales can be found here.

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