Almost 500 dentists across Northern Ireland have signed a letter sent to the Health Minister which warns NHS dentistry here “is at severe risk of complete collapse”.
n the hard-hitting correspondence, the British Dental Association (BDA) said NHS dentistry in Northern Ireland is “financially unviable”, with the income for associate dentists dropping by 36% since 2008/09 and 43% for practice owners over the same period.
“While practitioners across the UK have experienced sustained cuts to their incomes, practitioners in Northern Ireland have seen their pay eroded by the largest proportion,” the letter states.
Describing a burnt-out and demoralised workforce, the BDA said many dentists had put their health at risk to work in Covid-19 dental surgeries. It also said income has been significantly impacted during the pandemic, leaving the service in an “extremely precarious state”.
The letter continued: “Over the past 15 months, BDA has sought to work constructively with you as Minister, and with your officials, in providing collective leadership to try to avoid a complete collapse of health service dentistry.
“While we recognise the short-term supports provided…we stress that without a fundamental shift of trajectory away from a race to the bottom, health service dentistry will not survive.
“We have reached a point where the majority of NHS committed dental professionals are feeling utterly demoralised, burned-out and concerned for the future.
“We urge your department to face up to the crisis in dentistry and prioritise coming forward with meaningful solutions to the serious issues we have raised in our letter.”