18 February 2006

Dentists, Tax and the NHS.

This post over at the Devil's Kitchen written by MatGB (while the devil is away on a ski-ing holiday), motivated me to write about dentists' salaries, taxation and the NHS.

In explaining to Mat that dentists might not just be motivated by money, I stumbled on the following facts.

An NHS dentist has NET earnings of 79,000 a year on average and can earn well in excess of that. Thats in the top 2% of earners in this country, so its not exactly poverty pay. Median Average Earnings are 23,000 pounds p.a.

Not only that, according to the linked Times article, the difference between those who do private work and those who do NHS work can be a little as 800 pounds p.a. Not exactly a huge figure when you are on those sorts of salaries.

The British Dental Association actually puts the number of dentists who carry out purely private work at between 300-500 out of a total of 24,000 practising dentists in the country. That is less than 2% of the total.

As for the level of complaints;

"Some 75 per cent of practices reported having received no complaints in the last year and the overall average worked out at 0.7 complaints per practice per year."

This seems pretty decent satisfaction level to me.

What I am more concerned about is this.;

" [some] dentists who have “gone private” limit their NHS work to children of private patients — those under 18 are exempt from NHS fees — or even their own relatives."

Should we really be allowing dentists to prioritise their relatives and friends or their private patients' children when it is the state who are paying?


  1. How many, I wonder, are exclusively NHS? How many predominantly? In Torbay, it's pretty much impossible to find an NHS dentist, and when you do get one, they're oversubscribed very quickly.

    Then they go private, except for kids.

    Did the BDA stats give how many carry outpurely NHS work? Pretty sure it's not just money. I suspect bureacracy and form filling adds to it; I know there was huge fuss when the Tories rewrote the dentists NHS contract, and I've seen little signs of improvement since.

  2. There is a shortage of NHS dentists, we just haven't been training enough dentists, we have a shortage of 3000 or so.

    A lot more are being trained, but of course this is not an overnight thing, it will take years.