The BDA has responded to the Government's delayed decision on pay uplifts for dentists working in the NHS in England by saying that much more now needs to be done to address serious recruitment and retention difficulties across the service.
The Government has broken from its previous austerity policy and accepted a recommendation by the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB) that dentists' pay should be increased by 2%. However, it is not proposing to backdate that uplift to the usual April date, instead delaying implementation until October to cut costs.
The Government is also proposing an uplift for expenses for general dental practice of 3% (except for staffing costs, which will be limited to 2%). Using the DDRB formula these figures would have been 4.1% and 3.2% respectively.
Survey evidence suggests over two thirds (68%) of NHS practices in England attempting to recruit in the last year struggled to fill vacancies. This had increased from half (50%) of NHS practices who attempted recruitment in the previous year reporting issues.
Levels of NHS commitment are now a leading driver of low morale and motivation. The BDA has previously reported that 58% of NHS dentists say they are actively planning to leave the service in the next 5 years.
Devolved administrations are yet to confirm their response to the DDRB report.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, the BDA's Chair of General Dental Practice said: "An end at last to public sector austerity is welcomed.
"However, this award will not begin to address the decade-long real-terms pay cut suffered across general dental practice. Real incomes for GDPs have fallen by 35% in that time. Indeed the overall impact will be a further pay cut this year; a 2% pay increase remains well below any measure of inflation.
"The Government's proposal to recognise the cost of running a dental practice fails to match inflation or take into account what we actually pay our staff. It is also galling that the Government has compounded matters by delaying the implementation of the recommendations of its own independent pay review body.
"We are seeing the result of ten years of cuts without precedent in the UK public sector: practices across England unable to fill vacancies, and patients are travelling further or waiting longer to access care. The Government needs to do more than pay lip service to address what is fast becoming a dental crisis."
Charlotte Waite, the Chair of the BDA's England Community Dental Services Committee, said: "This below-inflation and delayed uplift for NHS employed dentists will do little to address mounting problems of recruitment and retention. There is also some uncertainty about how all the NHS pay uplifts will be funded, the BDA will pursue this as a matter of urgency. I would not want to see a lack of Government funding have a detrimental impact on services which provide care for the most vulnerable patients in the community."