Dentists may still escape a one per cent cap on public sector pay rises. NHS workers were among those who were expected to be affected by an announcement in the July Budget.
Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that any pay increases would be strictly limited for the next four years. But now ministers have suggested there may be more flexibility than has previously been suggested.
Specifically staff groups with recruitment and retention issues may be entitled to bigger awards. Given the current staffing levels in large parts of the health service – including dentistry – this would appear to leave the door open for pay rises above one per cent.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands, Mr Osborne’s right-hand man, recently penned a letter to public sector pay bodies and conceded there could be room for manoeuvre.
“The Government expects pay awards to be applied in a targeted manner to support the delivery of public services,” he wrote.
“This may mean that some workers could receive more than one per cent, while others could receive less; there should not be an expectation that every worker will receive a one per cent award.”
The announcement comes after a recent study revealed that morale among dental practitioners was incredibly low, with working conditions blamed for a growing sense of despondency.
The British Dental Association’s Peter Crooks said the problem was escalating and needed to be addressed as a matter of some urgency.
“Dentists work hard to deliver high quality care to their patients but it must not be at the cost of burn-out for dentists,” he said.
“The Government must recognise the heavy demands placed upon general dental practitioners and start addressing the causes of poor morale – it’s vital for the good of everyone’s health.”