Skip to main content

Publication, Part of

Dentists' Working Patterns, Motivation and Morale - 2018/19 and 2019/20

Current Chapter

Dentists' Working Patterns, Motivation and Morale - 2018/19 and 2019/20


This report provides headline information on dental working patterns, motivation, and morale for self-employed primary care dentists in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales for 2018/19 and 2019/20. Information on average weekly hours, weeks of annual leave, the division of time between NHS/Health Service and private dentistry, and clinical and non-clinical work, is presented as well as measures of motivation and morale.

This report contains high-level working pattern, motivation and morale analysis results with more detailed results presented in a separate interactive Power BI report and several accompanying spreadsheets. For the first time, we are releasing entirely separate figures for England and Wales. We have also implemented a new methodology for determining the working arrangements (i.e. dental type) in England and Wales, which has resulted in the reclassification of some dentists from Associates to Providing-Performers. Please see the end of the Introduction chapter and the Methodology for more information.

The report has been produced by NHS Digital in consultation with the Dental Working Group which has representatives from NHS Digital (the Secretariat), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England and NHS Improvement, the Welsh Government (WG), the Department of Health, Northern Ireland, Scottish Government, the secretariat for the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB), NHS Business Services Authority Information Services (NHS BSA Information Services), the National Association of Specialist Dental Accountants and Lawyers (NASDAL), and the British Dental Association (BDA) representing dentists’ views and interests.

Although the report contains analysis of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the values are not directly comparable between countries; this is due to differing contractual arrangements as well as the use of different methods to derive dental type in each country.

NHS Digital welcomes feedback on the methodology, commentary, tables, and charts within this publication. Please contact NHS Digital with your comments and suggestions by telephone on 0300 303 5678 or by email to stating ‘Dentists’ Working Patterns, Motivation and Morale’ in the subject heading.

  • Dentists who spend more of their time on NHS/Health Service work (as opposed to private work) tend to work longer weekly hours and take less annual leave.
  • The more time dentists spend on NHS/Health Service work, the lower their levels of motivation.
  • The gradual drop in motivation recorded since 2012/13 has been arrested by Principal dentists in Northern Ireland and Scotland who have both recorded small increases since the last survey. Associate dentists in Scotland have also recorded an increase in motivation over the last two years, whilst those in Northern Ireland have seen a drop since the last survey.
  • The most common contributory factors to low morale are increasing expenses and/or declining income and the risk of litigation and the cost of indemnity fees. Whilst regulations are also cited as a major cause of low morale amongst Principal dentists, they now have a less detrimental effect on the morale of Principals compared to the last survey.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Principal dentists and over half of all Associate dentists across the UK often think of leaving dentistry.

Last edited: 21 June 2021 3:45 pm