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THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

The £15 an hour minimum wage - for dental nurses



Whilst the Labour Party wrestle with themselves as to whether the minimum wage should increase from £8.91 to £10.00 or £15.00 an hour, we in dentistry wrestle with the immediate problem of how to reverse the gradual decline in the dental nursing population.


We have seen the numbers on this - that the "normal" annual reduction in GDC nursing registrations is not being matched (as has previously been the case) by emerging apprenticeships and qualifications.


Dental Nursing no longer appears to be an attractive career option.


Can I also remind you that, in two days from now, following the end of furlough 60,000 health and social care workers will be released into the workplace, to take up the 160,000 vacancies in that sector.


Remind me - what does the basic law of supply and demand say about wages in that scenario?


So what do we do about it?


Option 1 - wait for the Government to ease the entry requirements for a raft of designated occupations, including not just HGV drivers but health and social care workers - in the hope that we can recruit nurses from overseas?


Option 2 - wait for the current economic cycle to play itself out until there are more workers than jobs - in the hope that the current working conditions and pay for nurses becomes attractive again?


Option 3 - accept that Dental Nurses have been underpaid and underappreciated for decades, that the problem has now come home to roost and that a major reevaluation of pay and conditions is required (oh - and by the way - recognise that those increased costs will have to be passed on to the end user - the patient).


I've recently been in conversation with my clients on this subject and I decided to ask some of them to confidentially share their existing pay scales (see below).


If you can make any sense of it - I'd love to hear from you. There seems to be no science - only emotion.


So, given that Options 1 & 2 above are not going to make any impact in the short term (and may even be speculative) - we have Option 3.


I predict the £15 an hour basic nurse's wage by the start of next year. You cannot resist market forces.







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Fotios Pappas
Fotios Pappas
Oct 06, 2021

"oh - and by the way - recognise that those increased costs will have to be passed on to the end user - the patient". The main problem is that the vast majority of the practices rely on NHS and the prices for the end user are fixed. That would be the main problem for the NHS practices as they cannot increase their income to match the new wages. What would you recommend it this case?

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Chris Barrow
Chris Barrow
Oct 07, 2021
Replying to

Morning and thanks for the comment - the challenge is that there is no way out - the NHS is funded by the taxpayer and unless and until Central Government recognise that there is a problem.......interesting to listen to Boris whining on about immigration yesterday at the Tory Conference and creating skilled jobs for Brits - the reality is that the only way the health and social care sector can survive is to open the gates to (probably low paid) overseas workers - wait for it.

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I agree totally with your comments and one of the reasons I thought nurses needing to be qualified and registered was to raise "the bar" but the pay hasn't been raised to match to increase in requirements. We as an industry need to be attractive to young people but with the vast majority of practices paying experienced nurses £12 PH and less why would they consider a career in dentistry. Job satisfaction can only get you so far when justifying poor pay if your pay package is attractive then you will get applicants applying. Just see how easy it is to run a practice with a nurse short and the answer is you can't. Its time our nurses and reception…

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Chris Barrow
Chris Barrow
Sep 29, 2021
Replying to

Thanks Lin

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