DF1s facing the ARF increase

pic 1Natalie Bradley discusses the financial problems she faces as a newly qualified dentist.

So, you’re newly qualified and after at least five years of hard student life you finally get a pay cheque! No more value baked beans and raiding the fridge when you go back home; you’ve got stacks of money, right?

But that big number at the top of your payslip isn’t what you should be looking at. Together with tax deductions and pension contributions you will need to think about student loan repayments and any other debts you have accumulated over the five years of studying. Additionally, in my case, over the three months of summer between finishing university and starting work my overdraft and credit card debts grew and grew, especially since I didn’t get paid until the end of September.

Where’s the money?

Besides, dentistry is an expensive profession to be in. Whilst the worry of the proposed £2,000 pay cut for DFTs was lifted when it was scrapped last minute, we’ve now had to swallow a 55% increase in our annual retention fee (ARF) by the General Dental Council.

DF1s facing the ARF increase will be hit with the fee of £890, which is inconveniently collected around Christmas time. This amounts to around half a foundation dentist’s monthly salary.

Moreover, for those of us practising in the capital, this increase is even more devastating as there is no weighting of pay to allow for increased cost of living in London, unlike foundation doctors.

Put together the costs of moving into a new place such as, housing deposits and agency fees with the initial start up costs to allow to start earning such as the ARF, health certificates, vaccine boosters, a disclosure and barring service (DBS) check and uniform costs, you need pretty deep pockets.

Focus on the clinical work

Other foreseeable costs such as MJDF or MFDS exams, trade union (BDA) membership and equipment such as loupes or a clinical camera are all things I’ve had to put off at the moment just because my finances won’t allow for it. This is a shame as I know that both my clinical and professional aspects of dentistry will be improved with these things.

Juggling your finances is something that a lot of newly qualified dentists aren’t really that used to – for some of them this is their first job! There’s a lot of negativity amongst dentists at the moment with the ARF and indemnity fee increases and it’s becoming more challenging for young dentists.

We’ve only been practising for three months so finding the cash to pay for the ARF increase will be difficult and a lot of us feel like there is no choice, no way of protesting and no special allowances as we cannot pay in installments.

Despite this, the focus of your foundation year should be on gaining clinical experience. It’s good practise to learn how to manage your money so as long as you plan sufficiently you should be able to deliver good quality dentistry whilst keeping on top of your bank balance.



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