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​New figures show morale crisis threatens future of NHS dentistry

8 December 2016

The British Dental Association (BDA) has reacted to new government figures showing that morale problems have left half of primary care dentists who treat NHS patients thinking about leaving general dentistry.

The report Dental Working Hours – Motivation Analysis collected survey responses from more than 6,000 self-employed primary care dentists across the UK. 

The findings show that morale has fallen since 2012/13 across the UK nations.

Taxable earnings for NHS dentists have fallen 35% in the last decade, while the costs of compliance have been estimated to have increased by over 1000%. The widely discredited target driven NHS contract introduced in 2006 in England and Wales is still in operation, with no clear dates for rollout of a replacement. 

The BDA is currently engaged in a research project on burnout within the dental profession and dentists' well-being at work.

The BDA's Chair of General Dental Practice, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, said:

"A wholly avoidable crisis of morale has left half of all NHS dentists looking for the exit, and puts the future of the service in jeopardy.

"In every part of the UK we are seeing the same story. A collapse in earnings without parallel in the public sector, oppressive regulation, and contracts that fail both colleagues and patients are all taking their toll.

"Ministers can't pretend this problem will just go away of its own accord. We are already seeing access problems in certain areas. The government cannot delay needed reform until we get to the point where queues start appearing outside NHS practices."

About the BDA

The British Dental Association (BDA) is the professional association and trade union for dentists in the UK. It represents dentists working in general practice, in community and hospital settings, in academia and research, and in the armed forces, and includes dental students. The BDA promotes members' interests, advances the science, arts and ethics of dentistry, and contributes towards improving the nation's oral health.

For further information, please contact the BDA's media team on 0207 563 4145/46 or visit the BDA's news centre. You can also follow news from the BDA on Twitter. Membership packages reflect the varied needs of dentists.