Dentistry in the news; earnings and expenses
DENTAL BULLETIN, ISSUE 6
Earnings and expenses: Show me the Money
On the 10th September 2015 the Health and Social Care Information Centre published its initial report on Dental earnings and expenses for 2013/14.
The report revealed a decrease of 21% in real terms for practice owners’ earnings, who in 2008 were earning on average £145,800 compared with £115,200 in 2013/4. For associates the decrease was 19.6%, who on average were earning £75,400 in 2008 compared with £60,600 in 2013/14. These figures were for England and Wales but there were similar trends in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The report is based on anonymised tax information and includes NHS dentists and dentists who do a mix of NHS and private work. It does not include dentists who do solely private work or who are employed.
George Osborne’s 2015 Budget
In our Dental Bulletin Issue 3 we commented on George Osborne’s 2015 Budget, which announced a further pay freeze in the public sector. Readers may also recall Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s proposals to halt what he calls the ‘virtually automatic’ pay increases in the NHS. Mr Hunt has not yet commented on how a 19.6% income reduction for NHS dentists sits with this policy change. The real danger of course is that many NHS dentists are already worried about their future, if this trend continues, it is difficult to see how new talent will be attracted into the profession.
An additional analysis will be issued on 10th October 2015 and as always we will keep you updated as to any important changes.
Forget Me Not
It was reported in the national press last week that new research suggests Alzheimer’s could be passed from one person to another and it could be transmitted through medical and dental treatments.
To add fuel to this somewhat inaccurate story, on the 15th September the Mail Online produced an article which began ‘Visiting the dentist is already frightening enough for many of us, but last week’s shock headlines warning that Alzheimer’s disease may potentially be transmitted via dental surgery makes it even more daunting.’
The stories are based on a report published in the journal ‘Nature’ on 10th September 2015. The lead researcher on the report was Professor Collinge, a neurologist at the University College of London. It is a complicated piece of research, with the potential for ground breaking development in cross infection control. However, far from the Daily Mail’s scaremongering, in fact the report states:
‘While there is no suggestion that Alzheimer’s disease is a contagious disease and no supportive evidence from epidemiological studies that Alzheimer’s disease is transmissible, notably by blood transfusion, our findings should prompt consideration of whether other known iatrogenic routes of prion transmission, including surgical instruments and blood products, may also be relevant to Aβ and other proteopathic seeds seen in neurodegenerative diseases. Aβ seeds are known, like prions, to adhere to metal surfaces and to resist formaldehyde inactivation and conventional hospital sterilisation.’
So whilst there is no evidence of a causal link between Alzheimer’s and medical and dental treatment at present, the protein that causes dementia is a type of prion that could potentially stick to dental instruments and is resistant to current sterilisation techniques.
Profession Collinge has himself has been keen to stress that further research will be needed to ascertain if there is such a link between the two; it should be noted his report was based on a study of just 20 samples.
The article from the Mail Online does provide alternative comments, including from Dr Sim Singhrao of the University of Central Lancashire’s Oral and Dental Sciences Research Group, who fears such headlines cause ‘public scare’. We agree. Sadly this is not the first time the Daily Mail has been guilty of whipping up public fear in order to sell a paper. It is now up to the profession to reassure patients that they remain in safe hands during every visit to their GDP.
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Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing. There may have been updates to the law since the article was written, which may affect the information and advice given therein.