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Publication, Part of

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

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Results Across the UK - Working Patterns, Motivation and Morale


Results Across the UK - Working Patterns, Motivation and Morale

The Dental Working Pattern Survey was first undertaken for England and Wales in 2006/07, and in 2008/09 for Scotland and Northern Ireland. This section presents headline working pattern time series results – where available – for the last twelve years (2008/09 to 2019/20). For the sake of simplicity, Providing-Performer dentists in England and Wales are referred to as Principal dentists in this section. Please note that the contractual arrangements in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are different and that this needs to be borne in mind when attempting to make any comparisons across the countries.


Changes since the last Dental Working Patterns (DWP) Survey

England and Wales - Methodology changes and break in time-series

As discussed in the Introduction, changes in the collection system for England and Wales workforce data has necessitated a change in methodology to determine the working arrangements (i.e. dental type) of dentists in both countries for 2018/19 and 2019/20. The changes have led to a substantial increase in the count of dentists classified as Provider-Performer dentists and corresponding drop in Associates as shown in the Motivation and Morale Analysis and in more detail in the Methodology. The changes in population sizes have also led to a review of the stratification and weighing methodologies used for both countries also discussed in more detail in the Methodology.

Whilst the new dental type methodology cannot be retrospectively applied, time-series results for England have been re-weighted using the updated stratification. Even so, given the large changes in dental type methodology, comparisons between results from the latest survey (covering 2018/19 and 2019/20) and earlier ones should be made with caution and such discussions are limited in this report.

Due to the smaller population of dentists in Wales and major change in methodologies, results are presented for Wales for 2018/19 and 2019/20 only. This is because the effects of the change in how dental type is determined, the increase in the Providing-Performer cohort and the reduction in strata used for weighting purposes are far greater and more noticeable in this smaller dental population resulting in potentially misleading figures.

Although earlier reports have provided separate headline results for Wales based upon the original strata, the results in this publication should not be compared to findings in previous years.

Dental Working Patterns Survey – Changes in data entry

Also discussed in the Introduction; changes were made to the style of data entry (from slider to data entry boxes) for questions which ask respondents to estimate the amount of time they spend on clinical activity and NHS/Health Service work. There is a possibility that this change in the collection has affected the data collected for 2018/19 and 2019/20, and footnotes have been included in affected sections as applicable.


Average Weekly Hours

In 2019/20 the average weekly working hours for Principal dentists in Northern Ireland and Scotland were higher than when the Dental Working Patterns Survey was first run. However, the average working hours for Principals in these countries peaked in earlier years before decreasing slightly. Working hours for Associate dentists in Northern Ireland and Scotland have generally plateaued over the last six to eight years.

Due to the major break in the time-series for dentists in England (see Introduction) it is not advisable to compare the latest results with findings from earlier surveys, although the effect of the change in dental type methodology and weighting stratification does not appear to be great, which may be partially due the relatively large number of dentists in the England population. Principals in Wales work fewer hours compared to those in other countries, whilst Associates in Wales closely match the average weekly hours of those in England.

Table 5.1: Average weekly hours by dental type, UK, 2008/09 to 2019/20

Dental Type and Country Average Weekly Hours
08/09 09/10 10/11 11/12 12/13 13/14 14/15 15/16 16/17 17/18 18/19 19/20
Principal                        
England 40.5 40.9 40.9 41.9 41.0 41.2 41.0 41.5 41.1 41.4 41.8 42.4
Northern Ireland 41.3 41.9 42.2 43.0 43.1 42.9 43.2 42.7 42.1 42.2 42.0 42.6
Scotland 40.9 40.9 42.0 41.7 42.1 42.8 41.6 41.6 41.6 41.9 42.0 42.0
Wales z z z z z z z z z z 38.2 39.3
Associate                        
England 35.1 35.4 35.8 35.9 35.6 35.8 35.9 36.1 35.9 35.7 35.3 34.8
Northern Ireland 33.9 33.9 34.2 35.2 33.5 33.8 33.2 33.5 34.2 33.5 33.6 33.9
Scotland 34.3 35.2 34.5 35.1 35.4 35.7 36.0 36.0 36.3 36.0 36.1 36.0
Wales z z z z z z z z z z 35.2 35.0
All Dentists                        
England 37.1 37.3 37.4 37.5 36.9 37.0 36.9 37.0 36.7 36.6 36.8 36.6
Northern Ireland 37.9 38.0 38.1 38.7 37.7 37.7 37.2 37.1 37.1 36.5 37.0 37.4
Scotland 37.8 38.1 38.0 37.9 38.1 38.3 38.2 38.0 38.3 38.2 38.0 37.8
Wales z z z z z z z z z z 36.0 36.0

Note: Further explanatory notes can be found in the Glossary (Annex B) and Methodology   I Major break in time-series  z: 08/09 to 17/18 Wales results not applicable due to change in methodology

Figures 5.1a and 5.1b: Average weekly hours by dental type, UK, 2006/07 to 2019/20


Percentage of Time Spent on NHS/Health Service Work

Note: Please see table 5.1 for source data

The percentage of time spent on NHS/Health Service work for all dental types peaked around 2011/12. Dentists in Northern Ireland have recorded a gradual drop in the percentage of time spent on Health Service work since 2011/12, although there has been an increase in the last survey of nearly six percentage points for Principal dentists. NHS share (%) for dentists in Scotland has generally plateaued since 2013/14.

Unlike average weekly hours, in the latest survey both Principal and Associate dentists in Wales recorded similar levels of NHS share (%) to dentists in England. The apparent increase in NHS share (%) in England may be due the methodological changes and figures should be treated with caution.

Table 5.2: Average percentage of NHS/HS share by dental type, UK, 2008/09 to 2019/20

Dental Type and Country NHS/Health Service Share (%)
08/09 09/10 10/11 11/12 12/13 13/14 14/15 15/16 16/17 17/18 18/191 19/201
Principal                        
England 64.6 65.0 65.1 65.2 63.0 61.4 63.3 61.7 62.7 61.4 65.1 65.4
Northern Ireland 65.3 63.5 71.7 73.4 71.3 71.6 67.8 67.0 64.1 60.5 65.4 66.4
Scotland 71.9 71.8 74.2 74.6 71.3 70.7 70.9 70.0 70.9 70.5 71.2 72.3
Wales z z z z z z z z z z 65.0 64.7
Associate                        
England 77.4 77.7 79.4 79.2 76.7 74.7 75.8 73.0 74.9 72.3 77.3 75.9
Northern Ireland 75.2 75.2 80.0 80.8 78.7 78.1 77.3 76.7 76.4 76.0 76.7 77.7
Scotland 81.5 82.4 83.5 84.1 83.2 82.0 82.1 81.0 83.3 81.5 81.9 81.1
Wales z z z z z z z z z z 79.2 77.6
All Dentists                        
England 72.1 73.0 74.6 74.9 72.9 71.5 73.0 70.7 72.8 70.4 74.1 73.0
Northern Ireland 69.5 68.6 75.5 77.2 75.0 74.9 72.9 72.4 71.2 69.7 71.4 72.6
Scotland 76.1 76.6 78.7 79.7 77.9 77.3 77.4 76.6 78.1 76.9 78.1 78.2
Wales z z z z z z z z z z 75.4 74.3

Note: Further explanatory notes can be found in the Glossary (Annex B) and Methodology  1. Data entry for 18/19 and 19/20 changed from slider to data box that may effect results in all countries.   I Major break in time-series  z: 08/09 to 17/18 Wales results not applicable due to change in methodology

Figures 5.2a and 5.2b: Average percentage NHS/HS share by dental type, UK, 2008/09 to 2019/20


Percentage of Time Spent on Clinical Work

Note: Please see table 5.2 for source data

Whilst there was a notable drop in the amount of time dentists spent on clinical work between 2008/09 and 2017/18, results from the last survey show an increase for all dentists. Whilst there is some evidence to support this finding based on answers to other questions in the survey (please see Potential Causes of Low Morale), the results may reflect the change in the data entry methodology for this question in the last DWP survey as discussed in more detail at the start of this chapter and in the Introduction.

Table 5.3: Average percentage of clinical work by dental type, UK, 2008/09 to 2019/20

Dental Type and Country Clinical Work (%)
08/09 09/10 10/11 11/12 12/13 13/14 14/15 15/16 16/17 17/18 18/191 19/201
Principal                        
England 81.0 79.7 78.7 75.8 73.1 71.9 73.6 72.1 71.8 70.4 75.9 74.1
Northern Ireland 81.6 80.1 76.4 72.2 69.5 69.1 70.1 70.3 71.5 70.6 74.8 74.7
Scotland 82.6 81.7 80.4 80.3 74.5 74.0 75.4 75.2 73.5 72.7 78.0 76.8
Wales z z z z z z z z z z 78.1 77.2
Associate                        
England 88.3 87.8 86.8 85.3 79.7 80.1 78.6 79.2 78.3 78.3 84.1 84.3
Northern Ireland 91.0 90.8 89.5 87.0 84.3 84.3 83.7 83.0 82.1 82.2 84.9 85.9
Scotland 90.7 90.6 90.2 90.0 84.4 83.8 81.8 82.7 82.6 83.0 87.1 86.6
Wales z z z z z z z z z z 86.0 85.3
All Dentists                        
England 85.3 84.8 84.3 82.4 77.9 78.1 77.4 77.8 77.2 76.9 81.9 81.5
Northern Ireland 85.5 84.7 82.4 79.7 76.9 76.9 77.4 77.3 77.6 77.5 80.2 80.8
Scotland 86.1 85.7 85.1 85.5 80.0 79.7 79.1 79.7 78.8 78.8 83.9 83.4
Wales z z z z z z z z z z 83.8 83.2

Note: Further explanatory notes can be found in the Glossary (Annex B) and Methodology  1. Data entry for 18/19 and 19/20 changed from slider to data box that may effect results in all countries.  I Major break in time-series  z: 08/09 to 17/18 Wales results not applicable due to change in methodology

Figures 5.3a and 5.3b: Average percentage of clinical work by dental type, UK, 2008/09 to 2019/20


Average Weeks of Annual Leave

Note: Please see table 5.3 for source data

All dentists take fewer weeks’ annual leave than they did when the survey was first run, with the most notable drop for dentists in Northern Ireland. However, Principal dentists in Scotland have seen a small increase in average weeks of annual leave over the last four years, meaning they take on average similar levels to ten years ago. The effect these changes in annual leave (and other working patterns) might have on motivation and morale of dentists are discussed at the end of the Motivation and Morale Analysis.

Table 5.4: Average weeks of annual leave by dental type, UK, 2008/09 to 2019/20

Dental Type and Country  Average Weeks of Annual Leave
08/09 09/10 10/11 11/12 12/13 13/14 14/15 15/16 16/17 17/18 18/19 19/20
Principal                        
England 4.6 4.6 4.4 4.5 4.2 4.4 4.2 4.5 4.1 4.3 4.1 4.2
Northern Ireland 4.5 4.7 3.7 3.9 3.7 3.9 3.7 3.8 3.8 4.0 3.7 3.8
Scotland 4.6 4.7 4.5 4.6 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.6 4.3 4.4 4.4 4.6
Wales z z z z z z z z z z 4.3 4.3
Associate                        
England 4.7 4.9 4.6 4.7 4.3 4.5 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.5
Northern Ireland 4.2 5.4 4.0 4.0 3.7 3.9 3.6 4.0 3.7 3.9 3.9 4.0
Scotland 4.7 4.8 4.7 4.7 4.3 4.5 4.1 4.4 4.2 4.4 4.3 4.4
Wales z z z z z z z z z z 4.4 4.7
All Dentists                        
England 4.7 4.8 4.6 4.6 4.3 4.5 4.3 4.4 4.2 4.4 4.3 4.5
Northern Ireland 4.3 5.0 3.9 3.9 3.7 3.9 3.6 3.9 3.7 3.9 3.8 3.9
Scotland 4.6 4.8 4.6 4.7 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.6 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.5
Wales z z z z z z z z z z 4.4 4.6

Note: Further explanatory notes can be found in the Glossary (Annex B) and Methodology.  Major break in time-series  z: 08/09 to 17/18 Wales results not applicable due to change in methodology

Figures 5.4a and 5.4b: Average weeks of annual leave by dental type, UK, 2008/09 to 2019/20

Note: Please see table 5.4 for source data


Last edited: 21 June 2021 3:45 pm