Friday, September 22, 2006

National press unreliable? I wonder why.

In today's column (see previous post for link), Polly also writes:

There is a sharp difference between recent patients and those who draw their view only from media anecdotage or from bad-mouthing friends among the 1.2 million grumbling NHS staff. Polling shows that patients are overwhelmingly pleased with their GPs and hospitals - but voters who haven't used hospitals are unreasonably dissatisfied.

Again, the actual research is less shrill (see post below for link to it).  For starters, the polling clearly does not show that people "who haven't used hopsitals are unreasonably dissatistified" -- there is reliable no way of testing the "reasonableness" of their dissatisfaction.

As for where people get there information about the NHS, the situation is more nuanced than "media anecdotage" and friends who work for the NHS.  Page 8 of the research shows that people also get their information from leaflets, direct mail, and from friends who don't work in the NHS.  The most favourable source of information (leaflets in GPs' surgeries) are also thought to be the most reliable (only 12% think them unreliable).  The most unfavourable source of information (the national press) is also thought to be least reliable (51% find the national press unreliable.  I can't think why).


Polly also writes:

...the NHS is flush with cash. Pay rises have made UK doctors and nurses the best-paid in the EU: dentists now earn £150,000pa.

Compare that with this quote from Liam Byrne in Hansard:

Most dentists who provide national health service primary dental care services are not paid on a salaried basis, but through a system of NHS fees and other payments that go towards the costs of running a dental practice as well as the dentist's net income.

[...]  DPB payment data show that on average, a dentist with a reasonable NHS commitment in 2004–05 in the GDS received gross GDS income of about £154,350. Dentists with a reasonable commitment are defined as those with gross fee earnings of £59,100 or more. These averages covered some 7,640 GDS principal dentists who worked throughout the year 2004–05.  HM Revenue and Customs information from dentists' tax returns show that the average ratio of expenses to gross earnings for a highly committed NHS dentist is around 52 per cent. (2003–04 tax year). The same source gives average net income of a highly committed NHS dentist from all sources as £78,600 in the tax year 2003–04. Average expenses were about £85,200. This information is taken from the tax returns of 392 GDS principal dentists who were in non-associate business arrangements for whom the tax year ended between January and March 2004.

Based on the data from these sources, the Department estimates that a highly committed GDS dentist earns an average NHS income of around £80,000 in 2005–06.

This is not the same as earning £150,000 a year -- you do actually have to deduct the expenses.

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