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News / September 17, 2019

Male dentists in NI earn £38k more than female counterparts

by Siobhan Hiscott

A gender pay gap within dentistry in Northern Ireland has been revealed, with male dentists earning £38,000 more than their female counterparts.

Latest figures from NHS Digital show the average taxable income for male GDS dentists in 2017/18 was £87,600, compared to £49,600 for all female self-employed GDS dentists.

‘From the headline figures, it does appear that there is a gender difference in earnings for dentists,’ Susan Nelson, vice chair of the BDA’s NI Dental Practice Committee, said.

‘However, the exact causes of this are not clear, with dentists’ net incomes influenced by a number of factors.

‘The BDA will be seeking to investigate this gender difference as part of its ongoing work on dentists’ pay.’

Pay differences

Pay differences between male and female dentists are linked, in part, to the number of hours worked.

Male dentists who worked more than 45 hours per week had the highest average taxable income – £96,200, the press release says. Female dentists with the highest average taxable income worked 35-45 hours per week, earning £54,000.

In 2017/18, the average taxable income for principal dentists was £116,000, representing an increase of £16,900 compared to 2016/17. However, associate dentists earned £52,300 compared to £59,100 in 2016/17 – a decrease of 11.5%.

Average expenses for principal dentists were £231,100 compared to £215,500 in 2016/17 (an increase of 7.2%). Average expenses for associate dentists was £33,600 – a decrease of £12,100 from the previous year.

Average gross earnings for principal dentists were £347,100 (up 10.3%), while associate dentists faced a drop of 18% in their earnings with £85,900.

The BDA highlighted that since 2008/09, dentist earnings have fallen in real terms by 30% for practice owners, while associates have seen a drop of 39%.

According to BDA, this reduction has resulted in 70% of practice owners, and over half of associates, describing their morale as low or very low – with nearly two-thirds of dentists considering leaving the profession.

They added that those most reliant on Health Service earnings have experienced a 12.1% fall in taxable income between 2015/16 and 2017/18.

‘Unsustainable squeeze’

‘These latest findings show once again that an unsustainable squeeze on dental income,’ said Richard Graham, chair of the BDA NI Dental Practice Committee.

‘The BDA has called for the urgent implementation of the 2.5% net pay uplift recommended by the independent Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration for 2019/20.

‘This would be the first step towards addressing rising expenses and a decade of below-inflation pay uplifts.

‘Oral health matters. It is time that the Department of Health addresses the unsustainable financial burden on dentists. We look forward to raising these matters with the Permanent Secretary in the near future.’