Lies, damned lies and statistics

Disraeli knew a thing or two when he penned this phrase and nowhere is it more applicable than to the latest statistics realised by the NHS Information Centre on dentists earnings in 2009/10.
As a trades union, the British Dental Association (BDA) rightly pointed to a pay cut of 5.2%, with a reduction in taxable income from £89,600 to £84,900 from the average self-employed dentist.

The BDA blames this fall on a rise in expenses but the statistics show that average expenses were in fact £100,000, a 4.8% decrease from £105,100 in the previous year. Oh dear, and these are figures they intend to present to the Review Body (DDRB).
We know from figures produced by the National Association for Specialist Dental Accountants and Lawyers (NASDAL) earlier this year that 2009/10 saw a drop in private earnings and expenses.
But an omission in the statistics are contract holders who are not performers, such as corporates.

So, although dentists, especially single-handed practitioners and associates have had a rough time, corporates could well be boosting their profits as a result.
The BDA should consider that point when giving its evidence to the DDRB. It often seems to forget that it represents all dentists, including the two thirds who are associates. Their expenses remained were marginally down at £36,100, but their average taxable income fell to £65,600, a 3.1% decrease.
It has hovered around that figure since 2005. The BDA should remind the Review Body that their remit covers this large percentage of the profession. At the same time, they could ask them to look at the plight of the single-handed practitioner.
The sole trader dentist had a net income, according to these figures of £97,800. The practice owner with associates earned (net) £161,000. That is 65% more than the single-handed practitioner and 145% more than the associate. But, of course, how much of that is accounted for by private practice?
The BDA and the DDRB should be looking at how money is distributed across the profession and how much is being skimmed off in profits by the corporates.

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