Belfast Telegraph

Dentists plan to cut staff - survey

A quarter of dentists plan to cut staff this year while a fifth want to sell their practice, a new survey has found.

The Irish Dental Association (IDA) fears the sector is facing up to 1,000 job losses as patient numbers drop due to cutbacks to dental schemes.

A survey found 86% of dentists saw their turnover fall last year, with almost half recording a drop of over 20%.

Fintan Hourihan, IDA chief executive, said the recession and cuts to dental schemes are impacting dentists all over the country.

"We have highlighted on many occasions the negative impact the cutbacks to the Medical Card scheme and the PRSI scheme are having on patients," he said.

"We have already seen 2,000 job losses over the last two years and if a quarter of dentists say they are looking at reducing staff numbers that translates into 1,000 job losses. If the Government is serious about dental health and growing employment they will take action now."

More than 300 dentists were surveyed by Omega Financial Management for IDA. It found half expected their turnover to fall further in 2012 and one in four said they believed their practice would be reducing staff numbers in the coming year.

The lay-offs will affect dentists, hygienists and technicians as well as receptionists and admin staff working in dental practices. Another 20% of dentists want to sell their practice, but couldn't because there are few buyers in the market.

John O'Connor, of Omega Financial Management, revealed 40% of dentists expect to have to work until 70 as their retirement plans have been compromised in recent years. "The main reasons for this are falling turnovers, the collapse in the value of surgery buildings and insufficient levels of pension funding," he added.

"These challenges are being exacerbated by falling numbers entering the profession and setting up new practices, making it more difficult for those wishing to retire to do so."

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