Contract talks begin

BDA welcomes start of negotiations for the new NI community dentists’ contract

The British Dental Association in Northern Ireland has welcomed the start of long-awaited negotiations with Northern Ireland’s Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) to agree a new contract for community dentists.

The BDA has been lobbying the DHSSPS to prioritise the development of a new contract for the past four years. The Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration recently agreed that the modernisation of arrangements in Northern Ireland was long overdue.

Salaried primary care dentists in Northern Ireland currently have the unfortunate distinction of being the only group of NHS staff in the UK not to have had their terms and conditions updated. Salaried dentists in Scotland agreed new arrangements earlier this year, England and Wales modernised in 2008, while no change has been made to NI contracts since the 1980s.

Dr Margaret McCabe, the British Dental Association’s chair of Northern Ireland Salaried Dentists Committee, said: “Four years on from the introduction of new terms and conditions for our colleagues in England and Wales is a long time to wait, nevertheless, we are pleased that talks are finally under way.

“Northern Ireland has an unenviable record of oral health, and that includes the most vulnerable patients and those with special needs who rely on properly resourced salaried services to support their needs.

“We are hopeful that 2013 will go down as a year when the government puts the needs of patients first.”