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Monday, 18 December, 2000, 14:57 GMT
How dentists are paid
Dentist graphic
Many dentists are opting out of NHS work
Dentists have welcomed the 3.9% pay increase awarded by the Review Body.

But the British Dental Association (BDA) said the rise had failed to recognise the differences in pay between different kinds of dentists.

Dr John Renshaw, chair of the BDA's executive board, said: "Whilst welcoming some parts of the Pay Award, it appears unlikely that it will help to overcome the shortage of dentists working for the NHS and alleviate the problems for some patients who are trying to find an NHS dentist.

"We had hoped that the Review Body award would help to convince dentists to continue to see patients on the NHS but we are not optimistic that this will occur."


We had hoped that the ... award would help to convince dentists to continue to see patients on the NHS but we are not optimistic that this will occur

Dr John Renshaw
BDA

The BDA welcomed educational payments, which it said would compensate dentists for taking time out of their surgeries for updating their skills.

But it said it regretted that the Review Body had failed to address the disparity in salaries between dentists working in the community those working in new hospital-based services.

Private work move

Dentists' pay has undergone a sea-change in recent years, with many dentists opting out of NHS work altogether and others offering a mixture of private and NHS work.

The BDA estimates the NHS has lost the equivalent of 1,800 dentists to the private sector - which it says equals the amount of treatment provided by all the dentists in Scotland.

The BDA says without action, the government will not achieve its aim of providing NHS dental care for all who want it.

Under the NHS system, patients pay 80% of the cost of treatment up to a current maximum of 354.

Dentist receive continuing care payments for each NHS patient on their list.

They may also offer certain treatment on a private basis to NHS patients while carrying out NHS treatment.


More and more dentists are going private
An increasing number of dentists provide private dental care - either through private contracts or through dental insurance and capitation schemes.

Following training, dentists usually enter general practice as an associate in a practice.

Associates pay part of their fees to the owner of the practice. This covers the use of the surgery, materials and equipment and staff.

After gaining experience as an associate, dentists often become practice owners by going into partnership, working in an expense sharing arrangement, building an established practice or opening a new practice.

Increasing numbers of dentists are also employed by dental companies, such as Boots.

Salaried dentists

Some dentists are salaried, including those employed by hospitals and community dental services.

Hospital dentists include those who specialise in areas such as orthodontics and restorative dentistry - also called oral-maxillofacial surgery.

Community dental services provide dentistry for the most vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly and disabled people who cannot get to a dental surgery.

Last year, average earnings for dentists were around 48,000.

Community dentists, called dental officers, offer treatment to vulnerable groups like the elderly and disabled, earn between 24,125 and 35,215. Senior dental officers can earn around 50,000.

Dentists employed by the new trust based dental services pilots earn around 43,800.

The BDA is calling for an extra 100m a year to be invested in NHS dentistry over the next five years, to combat what it calls the "chronic underfunding" of the service.

It says NHS dentists' pay has fallen behind average earnings over the past five years, leading to many dentists going into private practice.

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