associatesAverage profits for associate dentists have dropped by almost 1%, from £68,024 in 2015 to £67,389 in 2016.

The National Association of Specialist Dental Accountants and Lawyers (NASDAL), who put together the figures, blames the drop in associate wages on ‘market forces’, claiming many practices feel they can’t increase patient fees and so cut associates’ pay to balance the books.

‘The statistics that show a drop in pay for associates is surprising but probably reflects the very high percentage of associates to practice owners,’ Andrew Lockhart-Mirams, chairman of the NASDAL Lawyers Group, said.

‘Very possibly, in the future there would be an upward trend in associate pay as the increasing cost of living takes its toll.’

NHS practice profits

NHS practice profits per principal increased by almost 4%, from £129,265 in 2015 to £134,102 in 2016.

However, average net profits per principal for single-handed practices dropped from £119,732 in 2014 to £105,914 in 2016, a drop of almost 12%.

‘In previous years we have seen a time lag effect of a year or so from a rise in private practice profitability to that experienced by NHS practices,’ Ian Simpson, chartered accountant and a partner in Humphrey and Co, said.

‘We suggest that following the rise in private practice profits in 2015, this is again the case here.’

Commenting on the drop in figures for single-handed practices, Ian continued: ‘It seems that with increasing costs in compliance and a feeling that they are unable to increase their fees, many single-handed practitioners are taking the hit with a continued fall in their profits.

‘As a “compliance culture” continues unabated, the future will be difficult for those going it alone.’