Dental Earnings and Expenses Estimates UK 2015/16 Additional Analysis

Date published: 18 October 2017

NHS Digital today released further details of the earnings and expenses of General Dental Services (GDS) dentists in Northern Ireland in 2015/16. This is the ninth time this data has been produced. Initial analysis was published on 13th September 2017.

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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.  The report structure consists of two releases 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 in Northern Ireland 2015/16

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 2015/16 are given below.

The additional analysis includes earnings and expenses presented by weekly working hours and percentage of time spent on health service dentistry.  Findings are also presented by age, gender and local commissioning group. 

  • Those aged under 35 years earned the lowest taxable income from health service and private dentistry (£51,800 compared to £69,800 and £86,100 for those aged 35 to 44, and 45 and over respectively).
  • Those aged 45 and over had the highest gross earnings and total expenses, while those under 35 years had the lowest.
  • Male dentists had higher average gross earnings, total expenses and taxable income than their female counterparts.  For male GDS dentists, average taxable income was £88,500 compared to £52,200 for female dentists.
  • Dentists in Belfast LCG had the highest average gross earnings and total expenses, while dentists in Western LCG had the highest average taxable income.  Dentists in South Eastern LCG had the lowest average gross earnings and taxable income, while dentists in Northern LCG had the lowest average total expenses.
  • The Expenses to Earnings Ratio (EER)* for Principal dentists was 65.0% compared to 45.2% for Associate dentists.  The EER for all dentists was highest in Belfast LCG (61.7%) and lowest in Northern LCG (51.1%). The EER is the proportion of gross earnings taken up by expenses.
  • *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. 

Notes to editors: 

1. Dental Earnings and Expenses Estimates 2015/16, Additional Analysis is published on the NHS Digital internet site only. 

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 NI, 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 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. These reports were 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. Data sources used in report production: (i) raw data containing activity and demographic information on dentists in NI 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.

8. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 9052 0579 or email For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Office via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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