NHS dentists’ taxable income has dropped by 35% in real terms since 2006, according to new figures from NHS Digital.
Real incomes for a practice-owning dentist have fallen by more than £45,000 over the last decade to an average of £69,200 in 2015/16.
Despite this, costs for regulation in dentistry have jumped by 1,086% over the last 10 years.
‘A decade of chronic underinvestment and pay restraint now risk choking the life out of NHS dentistry,’ Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, BDA chair of General Dental Practice, said.
‘This 35% fall in earnings has no precedent in the UK public sector, and is placing the future of the service in doubt.
‘We have been left to confront a perfect storm of mounting costs and pay cuts unaided, and it’s our patients that stand to lose out as access, investment, and staff recruitment problems reach crisis point.
‘The Government has already thrown a lifeline to GPs.
‘Ministers must understand that sink or swim is not a sustainable policy for this corner of the health service.’
NHS dentists in England and Wales received a 1% pay rise in 2017/18, however in 2015/16 real-term earnings fell by 1.9%.
In Northern Ireland, self-employed dentists saw a 1.4% decrease in taxable income to £69,400 in 2015/16, but Scottish self-employed dentists bucked the trend seeing their income rise by 1.1% to £67,700.
‘Average income figures don’t account for the fact that more dentists – just like GPs – are working part time for NHS patients, and once this is taken account, it is not true that a dentist working wholly with NHS patients has seen this apparent headline change in income,’ an NHS spokesperson said.
‘What’s more, the availability of NHS-funded dentistry continues to be good, as shown by successive patient surveys over the past decade.’