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Pay rise offers little relief for dentists

Salaried dentists will receive their first pay rise for three years, after the government accepted a recommendation for a 1% increase

The Department of Health (DH) insisted it was offering a dentists a good deal – because some could receive rises of up to 8% under Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts.
 
But the BDA quickly warned the settlement – announced late on March 13 – would do little to 'relieve the increasing pressure on high street dentists'.
 
It focused on the decision to award general dental practitioners (GDPs) in England a funding uplift of just 1.5% for 2013-14.
 
Unlike in the case of salaried dentists, the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body (DDRB) was not asked to make a recommendation for GDPs.
 
Instead, the DH decided the level of the increase, by calculating the gross uplift needed to deliver a 1% increase in net income, after allowing for expenses.
 
Dr John Milne, chairman of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, warned that dentists faced an 'uncertain time”, with new commissioning arrangements just weeks away.

By parliamentary corrspondent Rob Merrick
 
He said: 'While dentists understand the financial challenges facing the public purse that sit behind this decision, they also know that their practice expenses are continuing to escalate and that their professional lives are becoming ever more challenging.
 
'That future will also depend on the funding shortfalls that are being endured by practices now being recouped in future years.
 
'The BDA will continue to remind Government of this and look to the DDRB for future recommendations to more effectively support dentists’ hard work caring for patients.”
 
The BDA also pointed to the DH’s intention to push through changes to the way that dental contracts are managed, in March 2014 – although details have not been revealed.

Dr Milne added: “We will also press for the all-important detail of the changes to contract management that have been announced to be published. Inevitably, the devil will be in the detail.”
 
But health minister Dan Poulter, announcing the deal, said: 'Pay restraint is essential right across the public sector. However, it should be noted that the majority of staff on AfC contracts could also receive annual performance-related pay increases. Many doctors and dentists could receive increases of between 3 and 8%.'
 
In common with almost all the public sector, salaried dentists had their pay frozen for two years, between 2011 and this year.

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