The news that dentists’ earnings had fallen by over 8% in the year 2010/11elicited little response from the media.
In contrast a few years ago, many picked up on the figure that some dentists were earning over £200,000.
This year the Daily Telegraph though told its readers that ‘hundreds of dentists are earning more than £300,000 under new contracts'. Not exactly true as the data included private as well as NHS earnings.
In response John Milne, chair of the BDA’s GDPC, sought to emphasise dentists’ plight by saying: 'We have been telling the Department of Health (DH) for some time that the dental profession is suffering a pay cut rather than a pay freeze.'
Will the DH listen? From past experience, the answer is no.
The Department will doubtless argue that the data include private as well as NHS earnings and they cannot be separated. Ministers may well say, with some justification, that the Department is not in the business of reimbursing dentists for a fall in private earnings.
Back in July, secretary of state Andrew Lansley wrote to the Review Bodies telling them, in effect, not to bother reporting in this round, as the government had decided to extend the pay freeze.
They will discuss expenses with the BMA and BDA, but expect the professions to deliver ‘efficiency savings’. So forget much, if any, reimbursement for higher expenses.
When the BDA received a copy of Lansley’s letter on 9 July, the least it could have done was tell its members.
Dentists have a right to see their representatives fighting injustices on their behalf, not issuing hand-wringing statements about much the profession is suffering.
In addition, on present evidence, the Department looks to be gearing up to shaft the profession over both the present and any new contract.
Yet John Milne and the GDPC continue to give their full support to the pilots. The time is ripe, John, for some plain speaking from a plain speaking Yorkshireman.