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​3% uplift: Fair pay must remain the rule

21 July 2021


The British Dental Association has said a long-term approach to pay is now required to keep NHS dentistry viable, following confirmation of a 3% pay award.

 

The pay award meets the recommendations made in the 49th report of the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB) in full, and marks the third consecutive above-inflation increase following a decade of pay restraint, which saw real incomes for practitioners fall by over 35%.

 

The pandemic has added to long-term pressures facing general dental services across the UK. Recent surveys indicate nearly half (47%) of dentists in England are now likely to reduce their NHS commitment, should current restrictions remain in place.

 

With inflation now at 2.5% the BDA has stressed an ongoing commitment to fair pay is required to guarantee the long-term sustainability of the service, alongside parallel action on a roadmap to ease pandemic restrictions, and meaningful reform of the contractual systems NHS dentistry operates to. The discredited activity-based systems in operation across the UK have fuelled recruitment and retention problems and have proved unworkable since lockdown.

 

The announcement will see the 3% uplift on pay backdated to April, with no staging. This will apply to community dentists in full, with a final uplift to contract values for general dental practitioners to be confirmed following consultations on expenses in the four UK nations. Consultants will see a 3% uplift in basic pay (Specialty and Associate Specialists (SAS) and Juniors have separately agreed pay deals). The BDA has encouraged practice owners to engage with their associate dentists to discuss their contractual arrangements in light of the uplift.

 

BDA Deputy Chair Peter Crooks said:

 

“An uplift on the right side of inflation is progress. A decade of pay restraint has taken its toll, and we can never return to recommendations that fail to reflect the cost of living.

 

“Both providers and performers need to see the benefit of this uplift. This has been a hard year for practices, but we look to owners to ensure this increase reaches their associates.

 

“Even before COVID, a growing number of colleagues saw no future in the NHS. If we’re ever going to make this service a going concern then fair pay must remain the rule.”