It is a difficult time for the recruitment of dentists across the British Isles, according to the Health and Social Care Minister.

Lawrie Hooper made the statement in the House of Keys this week after being asked what the average payment for a unit of dental activity is in the island and in the UK and if the payment is lower in the Isle of Man than it is in the UK. The question was asked by Douglas North MHK John Wannenburgh, who also wanted to know what the strategy is to attract dentists to the island.

A unit of dental activity (UDA) is a measure for the amount of work done during dental treatments.

Mr Hooper said: ‘NHS dental providers are all funded differently both in the island and in the UK.

The range of UDA values in the island is from £26.14 to £34.08 giving the island an average UDA value of £29.80 across all contracts, according to Mr Hooper. In 2022 to 2023, the UDA rates across England ranged from £27.93 to £38.80, giving an average UDA rate of £33.96.

‘What this means is that some of the Isle of Man’s UDAs are higher than some UDAs in the UK’, said Mr Hooper.

He said that Manx Care is not responsible for managing the majority of dental services in the island, it is predominantly provided by private contractors who run their own firms.

Lawrie Hooper said: ‘Neither Manx Care or the department have a role in determining what these dentists are paid or what terms or conditions they are offered, as such it is difficult to see a direct correlation between UDA values and recruitment.

‘Even if the values were increased, there is no guarantee that any such increase in value will be passed on to dentists employed by private firms to improve recruitment or retention rates.’

For services that Manx Care has full responsibility for, the rates of pay are relatively in line with England’s rates of pay, if not higher, according to Mr Hooper.

He added: ‘There are considerable difficulties in recruiting dentists across the British Isles.’

Last month in a written response on the matter, Lawrie Hooper said: ‘NHS dental services in the UK have reduced due to demand vs capacity.

He added: ‘Recruitment in the UK has been an issue for many years and has been exacerbated by Covid-19.’