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News / June 25, 2010

Health service pay award for dentists branded

by Guy Hiscott

BDA leaders in Northern Ireland have branded Health Minister Michael McGimpsey’s announcement on the funding of health service dentistry as ‘unrealistic’.

Revealing the pay award, the Health Minister said: ‘I am satisfied that this is a good deal for staff, and for patients and taxpayers in the current very difficult financial climate. The increases are fair, but realistic.’

The pay award includes:
• A 1% increase for salaried general dental practitioners (GDPs)
• No increase in net income for independent contractor general dental practitioners, however the expenses element of certain items of service will be increased by 0.9% to reflect the increase in GDP practice expenses.

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s (DHSSPS) confirmation of a pay award that produces no increase to net earnings for high street dentists and minimal uplift to practice expenses has confounded the profession.

Claudette Christie, BDA director for Northern Ireland, commented: ‘The basis of this announcement is simply unrealistic. Northern Ireland’s dentists have provided health service care to 900,000 people in the communities they serve this year. Salaried dentists working in Trusts treat some of the most vulnerable patients in the community. For dentists to fulfil their responsibilities to these patients it is important they are properly supported.

‘The idea that practitioners can reduce practice running costs does not reflect the reality of a situation where practices face sharply escalating costs. This approach by the DHSSPS is particularly disappointing given their acknowledgement that, with a new contract continuing to be some way off, efficiency gains should not be sought in practice in Northern Ireland.

‘With dental practices as small businesses at the cornerstone of communities across Northern Ireland, dentists are all too aware of the difficult financial circumstances we all
confront. But as clinicians, employing highly skilled staff, they’re also aware of the absolute importance of maintaining standards for their patients and investing in the care they provide. This announcement does little to support those aims.’