A recruitment crisis for NHS dentists is imminent, and set to deepen access problems across England, according to new data from the BDA. PEC Vice Chair Eddie Crouch said: “It is a damning indictment of current policy that the dentists who go over and above with NHS care are now paying the price in low morale”.
Survey evidence suggests over two thirds (68%) of NHS practices in England who attempted to recruit in the last year struggled to fill vacancies. Half (50%) of the NHS practices who attempted recruitment reported issues in the previous year. Figures reflect widespread disillusionment with England’s unreformed NHS dental system, with levels of NHS commitment now a leading driver of low morale and motivation.
Those with the highest levels of NHS work (over 75% NHS work as opposed to private) appeared more than twice as likely (39%) to report job dissatisfaction than those with lighter commitments (16%).
The BDA has previously reported that 58% of NHS dentists say they are now planning to leave the service in the next 5 years. Dentist leaders say that failure to reform the target-driven system in England and Wales, and the 35% real-terms fall in practitioner incomes continue to threaten retention, recruitment and the long term sustainability of the service. The BDA has called for the re-introduction of NHS commitment payments in all four countries to help NHS associates, who generally have a higher NHS commitment and form the vast majority of the workforce, and NHS support towards indemnity payments.
BDA Vice Chair Eddie Crouch said: “When patients are struggling to get access government should not be punishing dentists for commitment to the NHS. It is a damning indictment of current policy that the dentists who go over and above with NHS care are now paying the price in low morale. The constant treadmill of targets and pay cuts mean something has to give, and services cannot be maintained when practices are unable to fill vacancies. Failure to act is already leaving millions of patients across the country in limbo. We look to ministers to take responsibility and show dedicated health professionals that NHS care is not an unattractive option.”