Belfast Telegraph

2011/12 Dental Earnings and Expenses Report – Northern Ireland 

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

The Health and Social Care Information Centre today released details of the earnings and expenses of General Dental Services (GDS) dentists in Northern Ireland in 2011/12. 

This is the fifth time that an overview of self-employed GDS dentists’ earnings and expenses has been produced for Northern Ireland. The report presents key findings in terms of average taxable income, average expenses and average gross earnings for Principal and Associate dentists. 

Key Points from the Dental Earnings & Expenses Report – Northern Ireland 2011/12

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 earnings and expenses findings among self-employed GDS Northern Ireland dentists in 2011/12 are given below.


  • Average taxable income (gross earnings minus expenses, before income tax) for Principal dentists was £112,500 compared to £114,200 in 2010/11 (a decrease of 1.5%); and for Associate dentists was £55,700 compared to £59,400 in 2010/11 (a decrease of 6.2%).
  • For all self-employed dentists (that is Principals and Associates) the average taxable earnings were £75,800 compared to £78,900 in 2010/11 (a decrease of 3.9%).
  • Average expenses* (business expenses allowable for tax purposes) for Principal dentists were £206,100 compared to £216,800 in 2010/11 (a decrease of 4.9%); and for Associate dentists were £35,800 compared to £36,900 in 2010/11 (a decrease of 3.0%).
  • Average gross earnings (self-employment income before deduction of expenses) for Principal dentists were £318,600 compared to £331,000 in 2010/11 (a decrease of 3.7%); and for Associate dentists were £91,600 compared to £96,200 in 2010/11 (a decrease of 4.8%).
  • The Expenses to Earnings Ratio (EER)* for Principal dentists was 64.7% compared to 65.5% in 2010/11 (a change of -0.8 percentage points); for Associate dentists the EER was 39.1% compared to 38.3% in 2010/11 (a change of +0.8 percentage points). The EER for all dentists was 55.9% compared to 56.2% in 2010/11 (a decrease of 0.3 percentage points). 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.
  • The report also presents earnings and expenses results by Local Commissioning Groups, age, gender, activity type, practice size, working patterns and percentage of earnings from health service dentistry.
  • Where statistically permissible, comparisons for the main findings have been made between this report and the 2010/11 results (as shown above); 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.


  • The Dental Earnings and Expenses Reports have been produced on an annual basis covering data from 2007/08 to 2011/12, allowing trend data to be produced. The average taxable income increased for both Principals and Associates between 2007/08 and 2008/09 but has decreased year-on-year thereafter. Although the Expenses to Earnings Ratio for Principals increased year-on-year between 2007/08 and 2010/11, a decrease has now occurred in 2011/12. For Associates, the EER increased between 2007/08 and 2008/09, decreased in 2009/10, followed by a large increase in 2010/11 and has again increased in 2011/12.

UK Comparisons

  • Similar reports for England and Wales were published on 25th August 2013 and reports for Scotland are due to be published on 25th October 2013. However, differing contractual arrangements across the four countries mean that direct comparison between countries should not be made.

Notes to editors

1. The Dental Earnings and Expenses Report - Northern Ireland 2011/12 is published on the HSC IC internet site only at
2. The Earnings and Expenses Ratio (EER) is a measure of how much of an individual’s gross earnings were consumed by business expenses.
3. 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.
4. 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. 
5. These reports were produced by the HSC IC, in consultation with a working group comprised of representatives from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (N Ireland), the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Business Services Organisation, the British Dental Association, the secretariat for the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration Review Body, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs: Knowledge, Analysis and Intelligence Division and the National Association of Specialist Dental Accountants.
6. Data used to produce the 2011/12 Dental Earnings and Expenses Report, Northern Ireland, were taken from three different sources: 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; the Dental Working Patterns Survey covering 2010/11 and 2011/12, administered by the HSCIC and self-assessment tax data held and analysed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) statisticians was used to produce the analyses throughout the report.

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