end of NHS dentistry

Is it the end of NHS dentistry?

The anticipation within the dental community for promised NHS dentistry reforms is high. Yet, discussions about reform at governmental level still need to be made more transparent and apparent, no matter the outcomes of a looming general election. Because of this, dentists continue to take matters into their own hands, and many have already moved away from providing NHS dentistry.

Private dentistry growth

Due to a lack of dentists aspiring to deliver NHS care in the long term and long waiting lists being the norm, private dentistry has seen a surge in popularity with patients. Advantages, which include quicker appointments and access to a broader range of treatments, have made private dentistry more popular. Patients on a pay-monthly dental plan are becoming more common across the UK. We see this across our client portfolio at Patient Plan Direct, where plan patient numbers have grown more significantly in the last two years than ever before in the company’s 15-year history.

Private dentistry growth has also been driven by dentists who wanted less reliance on the NHS. Many are running private dental plans alongside an NHS contract or handing back their NHS contract, purely focussed on private dental plan patients.

Reasons that practices have parted ways with the NHS

Each dentist will have personal and professional reasons, but if any of the below resonates with you, an NHS to private conversion could answer your problems.

  • NHS dentists often face heavy workloads and long hours, leading to burnout and stress. The strain could push some professionals to leave dentistry altogether.
  • Insufficient funding in NHS dentistry can impact the quality of care an NHS dentist can provide, prompting NHS dentists to look for better-equipped environments.
  • Issues with pay disparities have left NHS dentists feeling undervalued or underpaid

The benefits of private dentstry

Private dentistry offers freedom and independence, which NHS dentistry cannot provide. Our clients across the UK who made the transition now benefit from:

  • Increased earning potential.
  • More money in the practice bank account means the opportunity to invest in technology and kit, providing enhanced services.
  • Flexibility in the treatments and techniques they can now use.
  • The opportunity to build stronger patient relationships by allowing more time for appointments, which in turn increases patient loyalty.
  • Greater control over work-life balance.

Is an NHS conversion right for you and your practice?

Navigating the transition from an NHS to a private practice is a significant decision, and at Patient Plan Direct, we understand the complexity involved. Before recommending such a conversion, we conduct a thorough analysis of the practice. Here are key considerations that may indicate whether an NHS to private conversion is the right strategic move for your practice:

Patient loyalty: Have you built and maintained patient loyalty? If your patients don’t feel a strong connection to you or your practice, they may easily seek alternative dental practices in the area. Through multiple conversions across our 15 years as a dental plan provider, we’ve learned this is particularly critical in areas with high competition.

Clinicians’ length of service: A respected and long-standing reputation is an asset when transitioning to private dental plans. Clinicians with a solid reputation can positively influence patients to embrace the change, trusting in their judgment.

Financial viability: We delve into the financial aspects of a practice, and if our calculations indicate that an NHS to private conversion isn’t financially viable, we will advise against it. We value your time and ours and won’t embark on a venture destined to fail. While this is a rare occurrence, it’s worth noting that 99% of the practices we’ve analysed indicate that such a conversion would be a positive financial transition.

Team engagement: The success of a dental plan proposition relies on the entire team being fully on board. A disengaged team unwilling to support the transition can hinder the plan’s success. This is why we conduct in-practice training and subsequent refresher sessions to ensure the team in surgery and at reception understands the benefits to patients and the practice. They can then confidently discuss the benefits of monthly payment dental plans to patients. If there is resistance from the practice team, incentivising the team can be an effective strategy, and we have numerous successful ideas to achieve this.

Unhappy patients: While a handful of patients may resist the change, in our experience, most recognise the necessity of transitioning from the NHS, understanding that it’s often a tough decision made for the practice’s long-term viability.

Timing: If there’s no mental or operational space to contemplate the change, there may be a better time for an NHS conversion. Timing is pivotal for a seamless transition. Whether it’s completing building work, settling debts, or addressing personal issues that could affect work capacity, we are here whenever a practice is ready.

Fear or unreadiness: We won’t pressure you to proceed if you or your team aren’t ready. Our commitment is to crunch the numbers, provide expert advice, and offer team training to ensure everyone is comfortable with the decision. We will only advocate a conversion if you’re mentally prepared. It’s a substantial decision, but we assure you it’ll enhance practice finances and work-life balance, provided you’re ready.

So, is it the end of NHS dentistry… or not?

The answer is that nobody is quite sure. But with the continuous negative stories in the media of ever-growing waiting lists, lack of government action, and patients taking matters into their own hands for their oral care due to a lack of NHS appointment availability, the future of NHS dentistry looks bleak.

Times have changed, and with change comes opportunities. If you find yourself as a principal or associated dentist dissatisfied with your current NHS contract or the circumstances of your NHS practice, we encourage you to engage with us. Our expertise in NHS to private conversions could redefine and positively impact your professional journey.

Why Patient Plan Direct?

We’ve helped practices of all shapes and sizes achieve a more prosperous business by assisting in their transition from NHS to private dentistry.

With our sterling track record, which is down to our expert team, careful planning and viability analysis, team training, promotional support and more, we know we can transform any practice looking for support from a dental plan provider that cares about success and a continuation of that success long-term.

The support continues post-conversion, too, with our team working with you to grow the number of patients on your dental plan. This is one of the reasons why we have such a strong client retention rate.

Want to know more? Get in touch today, and let us see how we can help you.

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