BDA urges governments across the UK to invest in dentistry

Governments across the UK must pay heed to the economic challenges facing NHS dentistry and maintain their commitment to patients and practitioners, the BDA has said in the wake of a recent report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

The Dental Earnings and Expenses 2012/13 report highlights the scale of the challenge facing NHS general dental practitioners across the UK and emphasises the need for dental care to be fully funded.

The report shows that the average taxable income for self-employed dentists working in general dental services in England and Wales fell by 2.4 per cent from £74,400 in the financial year 2011/12, to £72,600 in the following 12 months.

Dentists in Scotland saw their earnings decrease by 4 per cent for the same period from £71,700 to £68,800, whereas dentists in in Northern Ireland fared even worse, seeing their earnings drop by 5.6 per cent from £75,800 to £71,600.

Mick Armstrong, Chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee, said:

NHS dentists have seen their incomes falling year-on-year for the past five years, at the same time that expenses are rising. Taking a hit like this inevitably affects dentists’ ability to care for the nation’s oral health. If governments continue to ignore this fact, there is a risk that dental care could fall behind the rest of Europe.

While dentists recognise the pressures facing the public purse, governments must recognise the stress, expense and complexity involved in providing safe, effective, high quality dental care.

Dentists are also working hard to meet the high demand for complex restorative dental care required by our increasingly ageing population, and governments must start investing significant sums in dentistry now if they are genuinely concerned about satisfying the oral health needs of this cohort, which will be necessary for decades to come.