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Dental sector could face loss of up to 1,000 jobs this year

A survey of Irish dentists has indicated hundreds of workers could be laid-off 2012 – as practices reduce staff numbers to cope with falling profits.

File photo20 oper
File photo20 oper
Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE IRISH DENTAL sector could be facing job losses of up to 1,000 workers in the coming year, according to the results of a new survey showing that the majority of practices saw falling profits in 2011.

Almost half of dental practices surveyed said they had recorded a fall in turnover of over 20 per cent last year, and the same number said they expected turnover to fall again in the coming year.

One in four of the 300 dentists questioned said they believed their practice would reduce staff numbers in the coming year – with dentists, hygienists, technicians, receptionists and administration staff all at risk of being laid-off.

The survey, carried on behalf of the Irish Dental Association by Omega Financial Management, found that 20 per cent of dentists currently wish to sell their practice – but that nobody wants to buy.

IDA Chief Executive Fintan Hourihan said the findings showed how the recession and the cutbacks to dental schemes were impacting businesses: “We have already seen two thousand job losses over the last two years and if a quarter of dentists say they are looking at reducing staff numbers that translates into 1,000 job losses. If the Government is serious about dental health and growing employment they will take action now,” he said.

Those at the beginning of their careers are also facing a grim future in Ireland, Hourihan said, with only ”half a dozen or so” of the 70 young dentists who graduated in 2011 finding employment in the country.

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“Most of the class of 2011 emigrated to the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Many established dentists are also being forced to emigrate or work part-time in the UK to supplement reduced work in Ireland,” he continued. “These dentists have been educated and funded in large measure by tax payers and now they are being trained for emigration even though the need for dentists to care for and treat patients has never been greater.”

John O’Connor of Omega Financial Management noted many dentists have had to adjust their retirement plans, with 40 per cent now expecting to have to work until at least the age of 70.

“The main reasons for this are falling turnovers, the collapse in the value of surgery buildings and insufficient levels of pension funding. These challenges are being exacerbated by falling numbers entering the profession and setting up new practices, making it more difficult for those wishing to retire to do so” O’Connor said.

Read: HSE underspent on dental care by €11.5m last year>

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