NHS Digital today released details of the earnings and expenses of General Dental Services (GDS) dentists in Northern Ireland in 2017/18. This is the eleventh time this data has been produced for Northern Ireland.
Previously, separate country reports were produced; the Earnings and Expenses report has been published as a UK report for each of the past four years. Extensive restructuring last year meant that the entire series of the Dental Earnings and Expenses Estimates was published in a single release of a UK report that contains data for all countries. Below we present key points for Northern Ireland only.
Note, differing contractual arrangements across the four countries mean that direct comparison between countries should not be made.
Note, the source for all figures is NHS Digital.
Key Points on GDS Earnings and Expenses Estimates in Northern Ireland 2017/18
The report presents key findings in terms of average taxable income, average expenses and average gross earnings for Principal and Associate dentists.
It is not meaningful to discuss the average earnings of an average dentist as there is great variation in the different financial arrangements. However, the key findings among self-employed GDS Northern Ireland dentists in 2017/18 are given below.
- Average taxable income (gross earnings minus expenses, before income tax) for Principal dentists was £116,000 compared to £99,100 in 2016/17 (an increase of 17.0%); and for Associate dentists was £52,300 compared to £59,100 in 2016/17 (a decrease of 11.5%). Compared to 2015/16 figures, the 2017/18 average taxable income has decreased by 3.5 per cent.,3.
- There was no change in average taxable income from Health Service and private dentistry for all self-employed GDS dentists in 2017/18, when compared to 2016/17. For all self-employed dentists (Principals and Associates) the average taxable earnings were £66,400, the same as in 2016/171.
- The increase in gross earnings (0.4%) was less than the increase in total expenses (0.7%), in line with the general trend since 2008/09 (gross earnings to decrease more, or increase less than total expenses).
 Within the reports, percentage changes presented are calculated on unrounded data, while all earning and expenses data are rounded by NHS Digital to the nearest £100
- Average expenses2 (business expenses allowable for tax purposes) for Principal dentists were £231,100 compared to £215,500 in 2016/17 (an increase of 7.2%); and for Associate dentists were £33,600 compared to £45,700 in 2016/17 (a decrease of 26.5%)1,3.
- Average gross earnings (self-employment income before deduction of expenses) for Principal dentists were £347,100 compared to £314,700 in 2016/17 (an increase of 10.3%); and for Associate dentists were £85,900 compared to £104,800 in 2016/17(a decrease of 18.0%)1,3.
- The Expenses to Earnings Ratio (EER)2 for Principal dentists was 66.6% compared to 68.5% in 2016/17 (a change of -1.9 percentage points); for Associate dentists, the EER was 39.1% compared to 43.6% in 2016/17 (a change of -4.5 percentage points). The EER for all dentists was 53.8%, compared to 53.6% in 2016/17 (a change of +0.2 percentage points). The EER is the proportion of gross earnings taken up by expenses.
- Where statistically permissible, comparisons for the main findings have been made with the 2016/17 results; however, comparisons should be made with caution. Factors which can affect comparisons include: changes in the dental workforce, changes in type and volume of activity per dentist, changes to allowances, and VAT changes. It is also necessary to consider the absolute changes between years, in addition to looking at changes in percentage terms.
- For all self-employed dentists (Principals and Associates), the lowest combined taxable income (from Health Service and Private Dentistry), of £51,500, was reported for those dentists whose Health Service earnings accounted for at least 75% of their total gross earnings. Those whose Health Service earnings accounted for 25% or less, and between 25% and 75% of their total gross earnings had taxable incomes of £92,000 and £100,700 respectively. For principals and associates, those whose Health service earnings accounted for at least 75% of their total gross earnings also had the lowest combined taxable income within their dental types.
- As in previous years, regardless of dental type classification, male dentists had higher average gross earnings, total expenses, and taxable income than their female counterparts. For all male self-employed GDS dentists, average taxable income was £87,600, compared to £49,600 for all female self-employed GDS dentists.
2 Note that a designated dentist in each practice is paid a practice allowance under GDS to help address the increasing running costs of health service dental practices in relation to the provision of high quality premises, health and safety, staffing support and information collection and provision. For technical reasons, it has not been possible to off-set this allowance against expenses and the expense element will therefore be inflated.
3 Historically, HMRC provided the EER of dentists in 10 per cent increments. In 2016/17, an EER of > 50% was used to identify Principal dentists whereas in previous years, this figure was 40%. This change was a contributory factor in the decreasing earnings and expenses of Principal dentists and the rise in earnings and expenses of Associate dentists in 2016/17. This year, it was proposed to use the EER information in 5% increments, allowing a more accurate split to be obtained. The change in methodology meant that for 2017/18, the EER used to identify Principal dentists has been revised once again and an EER of >45% has been used. The improved methodology has allowed figures to more closely match those in 2015/16 and the significant changes in earnings and population to be reinstated.
- For all self-employed dentists, as weekly working hours increase, so do gross earnings, total expenses and taxable income.
- For all self-employed GDS dentists, male dentists who worked over 45 hours per week had the highest average taxable income at £96,200, compared to £83,800 for all male survey respondents. The group of female dentists with the highest average taxable income worked 35-45 hours per week. These dentists earned an average taxable income of £54,000, compared to £48,300 for all female survey respondents.
- Consistent with trends shown in previous years, dentists aged under 35 years had the lowest gross earnings, expenses and taxable incomes.
- For Principal dentists, and when all dentists are considered together, those aged over 45 had the highest gross earnings, total expenses and taxable income. For Associate dentists, those aged 35 to 45 had the highest gross earnings, total expenses and taxable income.
- For all self-employed GDS dentists in 2017/18, consistent with the results from 2016/17, the four largest expense categories were Other (57.3%), Employee (22.9%), Office and General Business (10.0%) and Premises (6.3%).
Notes to editors:
1. Dental Earnings and Expenses Estimates UK 2017/18 is published on the NHS Digital internet site only at: http://www.digital.nhs.uk/home
2. Note, NHS Digital must be quoted as the source of all figures.
3. The Earnings and Expenses Ratio (EER) is a measure of how much of an individual’s gross earnings was consumed by business expenses.
4. General dental practitioners are independent contractors who have undertaken to provide dental treatment and appliances on behalf of the Health and Social Care Board. Currently in Northern Ireland, there is only one type of contract under which these dentists can operate, that is, General Dental Services (GDS). Under GDS they have to provide a full range of mandatory dental services. A self-employed Principal dentist is also the practice owner/partner; an Associate dentist is a self-employed dentist that enters into a contractual arrangement with a Principal that is neither partnership nor employment.
5. NHS Digital, the new trading name of The Health and Social Care Information Centre, is England’s authoritative, independent source of health and social care information. Its role is to collect data, analyse it and convert it into useful information which helps providers improve their services and supports academics, researchers, regulators and policymakers in their work.
6. The report was produced by NHS Digital, in consultation with a working group comprised of representatives from all the Health Departments, all devolved Governments, business support organisations for each country, the British Dental Association, the Doctors and Dentists’ Review Body, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and specialists in dental accounting and law.
7. The data sources used in report production were: (i) raw data containing activity and demographic information on dentists in Northern Ireland provided by the Business Services Organisation were used to derive the dental population; and (ii) self-assessment tax data held and analysed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) statisticians.
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