Dental Earnings and Expenses UK 2014/15, Initial Analysis; Dental Working Hours UK 2014/15 & 2015/16, Initial Analysis

Date published: 14 September 2016


NHS Digital, the new trading name of the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), today released details of the earnings and expenses of General Dental Services (GDS) dentists in the north of Ireland in 2014/15. This is the eighth time this data has been produced for the north. For the fourth time, dental working patterns information has also been produced for the north; this relates to dentists who performed some health service activity in 2014/15 and 2015/16.

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Previously, separate country reports were produced; this is the second year that a UK report has been produced for both topics. The Earnings and Expenses report has been published as a UK report for each of the past three years; the Working Hours report is published every two years, making this the second UK-wide report. The report structure consists of multiple releases of a UK Report that contains data for all countries. This first release of initial analysis will be followed by a second UK release of additional analysis in October; this will be followed by further releases containing Motivation and Morale results as well as supplementary analysis later in the reporting year. Below we present key points for the north of 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 the north 2014/15

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 The north dentists in 2014/15 are given below.


  • Average taxable income (gross earnings minus expenses, before income tax) for Principal dentists was £111,700 compared to £112,500 in 2013/14 (a decrease of 0.7%); and for Associate dentists was £54,000 compared to £54,200 in 2013/14 (a decrease of 0.2%)[1]. 
  • For all self-employed dentists (Principals and Associates) the average taxable earnings were £70,500 compared to £71,400 in 2013/14 (a decrease of 1.4%)[1]. The key point is a drop in taxable income due to gross earnings decreasing more than total expenses. This is in line with the general trend since 2008/09.
  • Average expenses[2] (business expenses allowable for tax purposes) for Principal dentists were £217,000 compared to £223,100 in 2013/14 (a decrease of 2.7%); and for Associate dentists were £36,100 compared to £35,500 in 2013/14 (an increase of 1.7%)[1].
  • Average gross earnings (self-employment income before deduction of expenses) for Principal dentists were £328,700 compared to £335,600 in 2013/14 (a decrease of 2.1%); and for Associate dentists were £90,200 compared to £89,700 in 2013/14 (an increase of 0.5%)[1].
  • The Expenses to Earnings Ratio (EER)2 for Principal dentists was 66.0% compared to 66.5% in 2013/14 (a change of -0.5 percentage points); for Associate dentists the EER was 40.1% compared to 39.6% in 2013/14 (a change of +0.5 percentage points). The EER for all dentists was 55.4% compared to 56.0% in 2013/14 (a decrease of 0.6 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 2013/14 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.   

Key Points on Dental Working Hours in the north 2014/15 & 2015/16

The report, based on a self-reported survey, presents key findings in terms of average weekly hours, weekly health service hours, weeks of annual leave and the division of work between clinical and non-clinical work. The key findings for 2015/16 are:

  • Overall, dentists (full and part time) reported working an average of 37.1 hours per week in dentistry in 2015/16, with 26.8 hours (72.4%) devoted to Health Service dental services. The remainder of dentistry time, 27.6%, was accounted for by private dentistry.
  • On average, Principal Dentists worked more weekly hours (42.7 hours) than Associate Dentists, at 33.5 hours. Principals reported spending 67.0% of their time on Health Service dentistry (28.6 Health Service weekly hours); for Associates this measure was 76.7% (25.7 Health Service weekly hours).
  • Overall, dentists reported that their time spent on dentistry was split into 77.3% on clinical work and 22.7% on non-clinical work (which includes administrative and management duties). Associate Dentists spent more of their dental time on clinical work compared to Principal Dentists (83.0 compared to 70.3%).

Notes to editors: 

  1. Dental Earnings and Expenses UK 2014/15, Initial Analysis and Dental Working Hours UK 2014/15 and 2015/16, Initial Analysis are published on the NHS Digital internet site.
  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 the north 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. 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. 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 The north provided by the Business Services Organisation were used to derive the dental population; (ii) the Dental Working Patterns Survey covering 2014/15 and 2015/16, administered by NHS Digital and (iii) self-assessment tax data held and analysed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) statisticians.
  8. For further information please contact the DOH Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.  Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

[1] 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

[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.

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