Stormont backs down

Decision from Northern Irish assembly follows reversals in England and Wales

The British Dental Association (BDA) in Northern Ireland has received notice that the Stormont Assembly government is backing down on its proposed £2,000 pay cuts for foundation dentists.

The BDA has been successful in its campaigns in England and Wales and it has now been informed that the devolved administration in NI intends to ‘maintain parity’ for their counterparts in Northern Ireland.

Peter Crooks, Chair of the Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee, said: “Last month our BDA campaign scored a victory for new practitioners in England and Wales. And now recently graduated dentists in Northern Ireland are receiving similar good news.

“From the start we’ve been clear with Stormont. This cut was a cynical attack on dentists at the start of their careers, as well as putting the future oral health in Northern Ireland at risk. No government should try balancing the books off the backs of young dentists. Once again we are showing that together we are stronger, and the BDA will stand up to attacks on pay and conditions whenever they are threatened.”

After informing the UK government of its intention to pursue judicial review proceedings, the BDA received notice on 28 August that Westminster was backing down on the proposed pay cuts for foundation dentists.

Mick Armstrong, chairman of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee, said: “This is a victory for young dentists and for common sense. We all remember what it’s like starting out. It’s a time when you’re finding your feet, facing a steep learning curve and a mountain of student debt. It’s not the time to add to that uncertainty with a blanket pay cut.

“We have worked extremely hard on this. My personal thanks go to the PEC, GDPC and the BDA staff who have shown great resolve and also our thanks to everyone who made this possible, to each of you who signed our petition, and to every BDA member whose subscriptions funded our work. You have all directly contributed to a brighter future for our young dentists.

“Although this has been a protracted and difficult process, the Department of Health has at least had the good sense to avoid prolonging matters further with a costly and damaging legal battle.”