Urgent action needed to tackle morale crisis

The British Dental Association in Northern Ireland has called for urgent action to address the “shockingly low” levels of morale among dentists in the province.

Information from the HSCIC Dental Working Hours, 2012/13 & 2013/14 Motivation Analysis reveals that dentists’ morale in NI is the lowest in the UK with only 14.4 per cent of principals recording their morale as “very high” or “high”. This is compared with 27.2 per cent in England and Wales and 22.4 per cent in Scotland.

Levels of motivation among NI dentists was also found to be significantly lower than elsewhere in the UK, with the average motivation results sitting at only 35.2 per cent for principals and 39.8 per cent for associates. This is compared with 45.7 per cent for principals and 48.8 per cent for associates in England and Wales, and 42.4 per cent for principals and 49.9 per cent for associates in Scotland.

The report states: “Dentists in NI appear more concerned about their working conditions than those in other countries, usually in a more negative way, which provides some explanation for their lower reported motivation and morale levels.”

Commenting on the findings, the chair of the BDA’s Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee, Peter Crooks, said: “These figures are shocking but unfortunately they come as no surprise.

“They echo findings from the BDA’s own research, which found that low morale and motivation was linked to heavy workloads, excessive administration, increasing bureaucracy, regulatory burdens and rising expenses. The BDA believes this is an escalating situation which requires action now.

“Dentists work hard to deliver high quality care to their patients but it must not be at the cost of burn-out for dentists.

“The government must recognise the heavy demands placed upon general dental practitioners and start addressing the causes of poor morale.”