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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 16:34 GMT
Cash boost for community dentists
Child at the dentist
Community dentists' work includes going into schools
The group of dentists who provide care in schools and for the vulnerable will see their pay budget rise by 10% next year, the government has said.

It means around 7m will be divided between the 1,400 UK community dentists, with the lowest paid getting the biggest pay boosts.

The government said it would put this group of dentists on the same earning scale as their hospital counterparts.

The announcement does not apply to 'high street' dentists.

Vital role

Those working in the community dental services provide care such as school visits and treatment for people with learning disabilities.

We look forward to this recognition being translated into real changes
Janet Clarke, British Dental Association

They are employed directly by primary care trusts, and earn between 30,000 and 67,000.

This pay increase will generally benefit people at the lower end of the scale.

It is part of a range of proposals which will also help the dentists' career development, which are to be introduced in April 2007.

Announcing the changes, health minister Rosie Winterton said: "Salaried dentists have a long and important tradition as an essential part of the overall provision of dentistry in this country, looking particularly after the dental needs of children and other vulnerable groups, including those with special needs.

"In many places they also play a vital role in ensuring access to NHS primary dental care.

"It is important that, like their colleagues in other branches of medicine and dentistry, their roles and working conditions support the delivery of high quality clinical services for patients, and recruitment and retention of staff."

'Crucial work'

Acting Chief Dental Officer Barry Cockcroft added: "These reforms will create a new pay scale for salaried primary care dentists which rewards competence, contribution and experience."

Janet Clarke, chairman of the British Dental Association's (BDA) Central Committee for Community and Public Health Dentistry, added: "Dentists working in the salaried services are dedicated and highly skilled professionals who provide care for the most vulnerable people in our society."

She said it was right that the government was recognising their contribution.

"We look forward to this recognition being translated into real changes to support and encourage dentists working in this crucial area."

The proposals are unrelated to the overhaul of the contacts and charging system for high street dentists, which have been described as "shambolic" by the BDA.

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