Tristen Kelso looks at where we stand on pay and oral health provision in Northern Ireland now that Stormont is back in action.
Photo (c) Getty Images
Good news on pay
I’m happy to say that Health Minister Robin Swann has approved the implementation of the 2019/20 pay award in full.
A 2.5% increase was recommended by the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) for: independent contractor GDPs, salaried GDPs including Community Dental Service practitioners, dentists in training and consultants. This should be backdated to April 2019.
The implementation of this has been delayed, until now. We’ve been advised that officials have already begun initial preparations to implement the pay award.
Oral health in Northern Ireland
It’s not all about pay of course. We’ve also emphasised the need for a more strategic focus to address a range of issues affecting oral health provision. The Minister recently responded to many of the issues we raised:
- Oral health for the elderly: the Minister accepts ”there is a need for higher service provision for our frail elderly population”. The Elderly Oral Health Options Group will look at possible incentives to encourage treatment by GDPs and greater use of skill-mix, allowing CDS dentists to focus on the more complex cases.
- Community Dental Service: the Workforce Policy Directorate is in the process of establishing a group to undertake a review of the CDS between March and June, acknowledging that 40% of CDS dentists are due to retire by 2025.
- Morale and motivation: the Minister says he ”recognises the significant contribution that dental teams in the various services across Northern Ireland make to the provision of patient care and treatment”.
We’ll take the Minister up on his offer to meet with him to discuss these matters directly. We will continue to campaign for better oral health in Northern Ireland.
Campaigning for you, with Stormont back in action
It has been an extremely protracted process just to get to this point. We also continue to have particular concerns about how the Department is resourced, and if they’ll be able to fully address the range of challenges we face.
However, we welcome the positive spirit in which the Minister has engaged with us. We’re also heartened by the interest members of Stormont’s Health Committee have shown towards our issues, and the range of Assembly questions generated.
With Stormont back, we will be seeking to build on these important relationships over the coming months, for the benefit of the profession. We’ll be working to ensure Health Service dentistry is sustainably remunerated in future. Indeed, we have already made submissions to the DDRB for 2020-21.
Director, BDA Northern Ireland
Working for you
With each new member, our voice and our influence grows. Add your voice, join today