Iain Stevenson, Head of Dental at Wesleyan Financial Services, shares what’s happening in the dental and economic landscape that may be impacting dentists’ financial plans…
Much of July focussed on the ever-present topic of the NHS landscape and the challenges posed to those who work under the service.
Recent developments have been a mixed bag in terms of how well received they’ve been, with many NHS dentists still awaiting real reform regarding how the NHS operates.
Underwhelming pay increases
Employed NHS dentists such as hospital trainees and consultants will receive an uplift in salary of 6% with specialists and associate specialists receiving an additional 3%.
For contractors, the recommendation will be a 6% pay uplift, but it is still uncertain what the uplift will be when it comes to expenses, which will be awaited eagerly in light of increased operational costs.
For associates, hopefully, they will feel the benefit of the 6% pay uplift experienced by their practices, although it does not directly apply.
Many, however, feel that these uplifts fall short of the years of real-term pay cuts and claw-back experienced in an already challenging work environment.
BDA challenges contract uplift implementation
The British Dental Association (BDA) has called into question the long practice of late uplifts by NHS England.
In fact, not only has this practice been questioned, but the BDA has called for the application of interest on "unacceptably late implementation". The most recent uplift came nine months after the 1 April deadline requirement and prior uplifts have not been paid on time since the 2015/16 financial year.
Guided by legal advisers, the BDA has offered to back dental professionals in bringing forward claims, where providers experience difficulty with cash flow and business planning as a result of late payments. The domino effect also impacts the payment of associates, who take the hit on their personal finances until the situation is rectified.
The Statement of Dental Remuneration lands
NHS dentists in Scotland have received some tinkering under the badge of pay reform but are left with a general feeling of frustration as the changes don’t represent a break from what has been dubbed an ‘outdated model of care’.
Clinicians now have just 45 items for general dentistry. This has been received with some mixed views – some feel like this makes the service easier to understand, others are unhappy with increased limitations and the impact on patient care.
More positively, items that may have previously caused practices financial loss due to lab fees have seen significant increases in fee levels. The reform also includes the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB) 6% uplift on fee items. The pay award will be implemented with reform on 1st November and then backdated.
A helping hand when you need it
Sometimes when you experience challenges in one area of your finances, you may be able to offset the impact by tightening up other areas of your financial planning.
If you would like to tap into advice around maximising your financial security or exploring options outside of the NHS, you can book a no-obligation financial review with a Specialist Financial Adviser from Wesleyan Financial Services.