NHS staff are dedicated and hard working says the secretary of state, Jeremy Hunt MP.
I am prepared to give MPs the benefit of the doubt and say that they are also ‘dedicated and hard working’.
But whereas NHS staff, including dentists, will receive a derisory 1% pay increase, MPs are in line for a bumper rise of 10 times that.
The British Dental Association (BDA) rightly said that dentists would be ‘dismayed’ that the Government had ignored the review body recommendations and instead ‘chosen to offer’ a lower increase.
John Milne, who chairs the General Dental Practice Committee (GDPC), described this decision as ‘lamentable’. He said: 'This is a deeply disappointing decision that will prompt many dentists to question the coalition Government’s commitment to NHS dentistry.'
The Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body (DDRB) was set up some 40-years-ago, it was intended as an independent arbiter to stop doctor (and dentist) leaders knocking on the door of 10 Downing Street to lobby the prime minister of the day for better pay.
It took evidence from both sides and made a recommendation, usually a matter of splitting the difference, giving a bit more to those who had made the better case.
The Government always had the option of accepting or modifying the recommendation, but by and large for most of the time they accepted what the DDRB had said.
Twenty years ago the then health secretary Virginia Bottomley (who held the same West Surrey seat as Mr Hunt) altered the rules by, in effect, telling the review body they could recommend anything, as long as it was 1.5%.
The DDRB did not report that year.
Government interference has continued to a greater or lesser extent since and we have now reached a stage where the whole process is a charade, if not a farce.
We must ask why the BDA (and British Medical Association) continues with it.
A direct approach to the health secretary, or indeed the prime minister, could well be more affective.
The final point to remember is that the DDRB was set up to report on the pay of all dentists working in the NHS.
Likewise the BDA and Department of Health gave evidence concerning all dentists.
Now, however, it is only dentists who have an NHS contract that are considered by the DDRB or those who give evidence.
This amounts to only 20% of all dentists.
Some who have a contract are corporates, some have only a tenuous link with the NHS because they are mainly private.
The 80% of dentists who remain, who do the bulk of the NHS work, are ignored by DDRB, the Department of Health and, shamefully, their union the BDA.
Maybe they will receive the measly 1% on offer, maybe they won’t.
They are the ones who will really be ‘dismayed’, to quote the BDA, at being ignored by those responsible for their pay, by the DDRB, by Jeremy Hunt and, worst if all, by their union, the BDA, who in a few months time will be asking them to renew their membership.