Junior hospital dentists in England are to be balloted for industrial action in a row over NHS contracts that will see them working longer for less.
This is the first time members of the dental profession have been asked to consider industrial action, says their trade union the British Dental Association (BDA).
Peter Dyer, chair of the BDA’s Central Committee for Hospital Dental Staff, said: ‘From the start doctors and dentists have asked for a fair contract, one that works for patients and practitioners.
‘We are taking this step because the government is now set to impose a contract that fails both tests.
‘Our profession has never gone down the road of industrial action before.
‘We have not taken this decision lightly, but an unprecedented attack on our members’ interests requires an unprecedented response.
‘It is now vital that all the NHS dentists affected by this contract have their say.’
‘It’s bad for the oral health of Britain’
Mick Armstrong, chair of the BDA, said: ‘These professionals form a small, but vital part of our NHS.
‘This contract is bad for them, their families and their patients.
‘It’s bad for the oral health of Britain.
‘Hospitals are at crisis point dealing with record numbers of children requiring oral surgery.
‘This contract represents a frontal assault on an already overstretched workforce.
‘These dentists don’t expect special treatment, just a fair deal, and industrial action may now be necessary in order to achieve it.
‘All healthcare professionals have a stake in this.
‘We are determined to stand up for the next generation, and secure a contract that won’t put their futures or patient care in jeopardy.’