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The long-awaited Northern Ireland Community Dental Services Contract

Blog Author Tristen Kelso

Blog Date 17/05/2018

​Over two years have passed since the Community dental Services (CDS) contract in Northern Ireland was successfully balloted on, and yet we are still awaiting its implementation.

This was a hard-won and long-negotiated deal, we’d been arguing for many years that the CDS was being pushed to breaking point after successive cuts and we highlighted the shocking fall in morale for CDS staff.

Despite the recent approval of the business case by Department of Finance, we are concerned at the protracted nature in which the Department appear to be stalling on the implementation of the contact. 


We find this situation to be wholly unacceptable.

When we gave our oral evidence to the pay review body this year (the DDRB), their Secretariat specifically asked us about the impact the delay was having on staff. 

This is the first time we’ve ever been asked this type of question directly, and we hope this means Government is now listening to our plight. We took the opportunity to highlight the very real sense of frustration felt by CDS staff and the negative impact on morale. 

What is the BDA doing?

We have made concerted efforts to get the contract implemented without any further delays.

Following a meeting between the Northern Ireland Salaried Dental Committee (NISDC) representatives and the Department of Health, we have now sent the following statement to the Department of Health, ratified by the BDA’s Principle Executive Committee (PEC): 

Statement from the PEC

“The new Community Dental Contract was balloted on and agreed between the Department of Health and NISDC representatives, and received Ministerial sign off by the Health Minister over two years ago. 

“The BDA Principal Executive Committee is extremely concerned at the protracted way in which Department of Finance has stalled sign off and implementation. The focus of recent queries raised by Finance risk unpicking the contract as negotiated, and not respecting the integrity of the recognised process, or the sensitive balance of the package in its entirety. We know this is a position shared by our employer colleagues within Department of Health”.

Seeking a resolution: CDS contract implementation

We asked for our correspondence to the Department of Health regarding the contract to be elevated to Permanent Secretary-level. 

A letter has now been sent by the Department of Health Permanent Secretary to his Finance counterpart in answer to the queries raised.

We have received a verbal apology from the Department of Health and we expect a written apology, we feel that is the very least our members deserve. 

It doesn’t resolve the issue, but it would be a welcome gesture from them.  

As Northern Ireland is still without a functioning Assembly and Executive Ministers, the Chair of the PEC, Mick Armstrong, has also written to the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, to ask for her assistance and intervention, to ensure the contract is finally implemented.

NISDC Chair Grainne Quinn will be writing to all CDS staff, giving them an update on the contract, and members should rest assured that we will not stop until the contract is finally implemented.

Tristen Kelso, Director
BDA Northern Ireland

CDS contract: working for you

BDA Northern Ireland will continue to make CDS contract implementation a top priority.

As a CDS dentist, if you have any issues or questions, you can speak to your NISDC Trust reps or your BDA Accredited Representative. 

You can also speak to our Employment Relations Officer David Paul on: david.paul@bda.org for information updates on the CDS contract.

Please ensure your contact details are up to date – go to your MyBDA to make any changes. 

If you are not a member, please contact the membership team on membership@bda.org to update your communications preferences, and we will keep you updated.