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Publication, Part of

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

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Leaving General Dental Practice

As discussed in the Introduction to the motivation and morale analysis section, in addition to the six motivation and one morale question, the Dental Working Patterns (DWP) Survey also includes the question ‘I often think about leaving general dental practice’. Since the question may well be considered a consequence of motivation and/or morale rather than a driver, and because responses of ‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree’ may be indicative of low motivation and morale, results for this question are analysed and presented separately. Results are available from 2014/15 only.

In common with the answers to the motivation and morale questions in Chapters 6 to 8, answers to the leaving question are presented for all countries although the contractual differences mean any comparisons would be made with extreme caution.

Again, the methodological changes already described mean the trend of responses in England should be treated with care while the effect of these changes on the smaller cohort of dentists in Wales mean there that figures are presented for 2018/19 and 2019/20 only.

Table 9.1 and figures 9.1a and 9.1b consider the results for ‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree’ combined. For the sake of simplicity of prose, Providing-Performer dentists in England and Wales in the next sections are referred to as Principals, matching dentists in the other countries.

Table 9.1: Percentage of dentists (%) that answered ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ to the leaving question, by dental type and country, 2014/15 to 2019/20

Country Principal   Associate
14/15 15/16 16/17 17/18 18/19 19/20 Diff1   14/15 15/16 16/17 17/18 18/19 19/20 Diff1
England 54.5 55.7 61.9 62.2 61.0 61.3 -0.9   48.6 47.8 57.3 56.7 57.5 55.0 -1.7
N. Ireland 62.3 59.2 62.6 64.0 63.2 70.4 6.4   48.9 51.1 56.7 52.1 70.2 65.2 13.1
Scotland 56.4 57.1 66.2 69.3 59.8 61.9 -7.3   47.2 45.9 57.7 57.1 52.5 51.1 -5.9
Wales z z z z 76.9 74.9 N/A   z z z z 53.1 53.7 N/A

1. Difference columns are calculated by subtracting 2017/18 results from 2019/20 results.   I Major break in time-series  z: 08/09 to 17/18 Wales results not applicable due to change in methodology

Figures 9.1a and 9.1b: Percentage of dentists (%) that answered ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ to the leaving question, by dental type and country, 2014/15 to 2019/20

Table 9.1 shows that over 60% of Principal dentists and over half of all Associate dentists across the UK either ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ with the statement ‘I often think about leaving general dental practice’, with notably high scores for Principals in Wales and Associate dentists in Northern Ireland. Whilst the large increase for Associate dentists in Northern Ireland since the last survey is consistent with the motivation and morale results discussed earlier, the result for Principals is harder to understand, particularly as motivation increased slightly for these dentists since the last survey. However, the analysis shown in Motivation and Morale Analysis section suggests the increase in motivation for Principal dentists in Northern Ireland was largely due to an increase in satisfaction with equipment and resources and corresponds with a revenue grant scheme launched in April 2019.

Both dental groups in Scotland recorded a reduction in agreement to the leaving question, which is in line with an increase in both motivation and morale recorded for these dentists compared to the previous survey.

While it is important to note that thinking about leaving a profession and doing so are very different activities, nonetheless, the fact that well over half of all DWP Survey respondents continue to think along these lines is a notable statistic and results such as these prompted the development of a new question on potential causes of low morale, results for which are shown in the preceding chapter.


Last edited: 21 June 2021 3:45 pm