Dentists working for the NHS have voted to accept a new deal on pay and career structures.
There are about 1,500 salaried primary care dentists in England, mostly employed by primary care trusts.
They carry out dental public health programmes, provide dental care to vulnerable patients, as well as delivering more specialised aspects of care, for example dental care under general anaesthesia. Their pay and career structures are largely as inherited from local government in 1974, when this staff group transferred into the NHS.
The new contract is the result of negotiations between NHS Employers and the British Dental Association. The changes will be implemented from the beginning of 2008.
The proposals include an overhaul of career structures for salaried dentists, and introduces formal appraisal and job planning.
Eric Rooney, the NHS Employers lead negotiator, said: “The new contract is designed to provide a clear and flexible career structure that will improve the quality of salaried dentists’ working lives and help secure modernised dental services for patients.”
The chief dental officer of England, Barry Cockcroft, welcomed the decision.
“This represents the completion of discussions which have been under way for several years to improve the careers of this important, but often overlooked group of staff who play a key role in NHS dentistry,” he said.