The Blog

All that's new in the world of dentistry

Why don’t dentists work privately?

Why don’t dentists work privately?

This piece is not aimed at those people who work in salaried posts without a choice of materials, staff, equipment or patients. I believe they do great work in spite of the system. It is focussed on the self employed, those who have made the choice to hitch their wagon to the NHS and who now frequently find themselves with a dilemma of conscience.

The National Health Service, once “the envy of the world” is effectively broken. Starved of investment and degraded by political interference the morale of staff from cleaners to consultants is at an all time low.

The budget cannot stretch to include high quality dentistry so we have the ideal political option, control the fees, tax the recipients and squeeze the providers.

For more than five decades dentistry and dentists were perceived as the awkward squad and outsiders because they retained their independence and dealt with cash. After fifty five years the unthinkable happened, they were effectively neutralised, hobbled and brought firmly into the NHS tent. Limited contracts placed a cap on earnings. The new contract brought a system that measured activity but did not reward it and has ground down the nearly universal entrepreneurial spirit that had existed. No matter how hard you work you will never earn any more from practicing NHS dentistry only by profiting from other’s labours.

These controlled contracts have had their value eroded by inflation, post crash austerity and three successive governments determined to break another profession. Yet, counter-intuitively, the price paid for the exchange of contracts has increased out of all proportion.

Dentists complain, with justification, that their clinical freedom has been undermined, there is no reward for prevention and the fees paid are still linked to random measures taken a dozen years ago.

So why do dentists put up with it? Behind closed doors everyone  agrees that it is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain standards in the face of increasing bureaucracy, the imposition of disproportionate compliance and the threat of big brother GDC. Yet if a dentist dares to say to a patient that they cannot carry out a treatment to a satisfactory standard on the NHS and they could do it better if they charged a fee that is proportionate to the time, skill and materials required they can be pilloried for bringing the profession into disrepute.

The NHS is the elephant in the room of far too many discussions.

As a “retired” dentist (i.e. no longer on the register) and, running the risk of never being asked to be an after dinner speaker at a GDC bunfight (their loss, I’m quite a good turn), I’ll say it. In many cases if you want the full range of choices, materials, techniques and options of treatment to ensure that someone can deliver their best for you then you will have to pay that someone to treat you privately.

If you want dental care without the clinician needing to compromise, then you have to pay and not have the relationship controlled by a third party.

In my own practice I reduced my reliance on NHS funding in 1993 in the wake of a 7% gross fee cut, I had large borrowings but was fed up of being told how I should treat my patients, I wanted something that was better for them and better for me.

For much of the past 40 plus years NHS dentistry has avoided looking itself in the eyes, owning up and speaking the truth. The hamster wheel rotated ever faster until it became so compromised and patched up that it eventually ran out of spares and ground to a halt.

The majority of people seem to believe that the current situation is unsustainable and it cannot carry on much longer. Don’t think that the people who issue the contracts are going to change anything. They hold the cards, they are the ones who say jump and unfortunately a great many dentists default response is, “how high?”.

To return to the original question, why don’t dentists work privately?

In my experience the reasons fall into two main over lapping categories, fear and comfort.


There’s a fear of failure, they think that their patients will not pay them, they fear that the patients will all run away to the practice down the road. They fear that they will not make any money, they quote anecdotes of people who have tried to leave and gone broke.

They are frightened they do not have the skills to perform dentistry to the best of their ability. That’s valid in the short term only, ask anyone who has escaped and they will tell you it takes several years to fully escape from the “make do and mend / just enough is good enough” approach encouraged and fostered by the stifling NHS contract.

Scratch the surface of a lot of these excuses and there often emerges problems with self esteem. They worry that they will be rejected, their patients will effectively say “We don’t love you any more”. They think that they are just not good enough human beings. 

What I also see are people who have skills which are not valued by their paymasters, presuming that they will not be valued by their patients, they say, “They don’t want good dentistry”. This is one small step away from, “they don’t care about themselves, why should I care for them?”


“People will often not make changes until the pain of not making a change exceeds that of making the change.”

The so-called comfort zone has to become pretty uncomfortable to force many to leave it. There is a line on the Pink Floyd track “Time” which runs, “Hanging on in quiet desperation, it’s the English way” for English substitute NHS.

The head in the sand is easier, the hope that Mick Armstrong, Sara Hurley et al will deliver a change, the nirvana contract. Then we will all return to the “golden age” of UK dentistry which you never actually experienced but older people have told you about. Wake up, it’s Jeremy Hunt who has got control and he doesn’t care about you.

There’s the money, let’s not forget, in spite of falling incomes for associates it seems that principals are surviving. With every year they are that little bit closer to claiming the NHS pension, but with every year of added stress they are less likely to enjoy a full life with the pension.

We must also consider the increased value of the practice, the market has peaked and the corporates are growing shy. It would only take a small government bill to remove the exclusivity of the contract and bang goes the bubble.

Final comfort excuse, “I support the NHS”. Really? Really??

I will often ask wavering clients to ask themselves, “Is this what you signed up for? Is this what you saw yourself doing when you left university? Is this what you want to be doing in 10/20/30 years time?”


If the answer to any of these questions is “No” then the next ask is, “When are you going to change?”.


So - why don’t dentists work privately?







  7650 Hits
7650 Hits

GDPUK is 20 years old.

GDPUK is 20 years old.


Today is the 20th anniversary of the first posts by four members of GDPUK, by email.

Yes, that is how we started, unbelievably before Google and Facebook!

I do love telling this story, and I'd like to share it with you. I was online from 1996, in those days it was dial up with those nostalgic modem sounds. The web was much more simple in 1997, and I taught myself, as many of you did, how to write a web page, rudimentary html, including how to upload it and make it display. I was interested in email communication, and before the ease of modern social media, email lists were the best method, using an internet protocol older than the WWW.

I was a member of an American dental group, IDF, which is still going, but it was very US centred, not particularly useful for a UK dentist. In April 1997, I got the idea of founding a mailing list for UK dentists, and thought about how to get a group together. The BDJ was the way forward.

So, I wrote a letter on my word processor software, posted to BDJ that month and carried on with work and my family. This was the pace of life only 20 years ago. Then in June, [only 8 weeks later :) ] I received a postcard [!!] from the editor of BDJ, saying yes, we will publish your letter. So, in the second August magazine, my letter was published, three colleagues replied, and we got started in the September. Here is the Medline link to that letter ....


I must have the hard copy somewhere, ready for the GDPUK museum!!

We are celebrating the anniversary of GDPUK with our Conference in November. Early bird discounts available here I am looking forward to an interesting and unique day in Manchester - meeting colleagues old and new... all are welcome.

Looking forward to a celebratory drink with you all at the end of that day… cheers.

Thanks for reading and helping GDPUK grow for 20 years.



  4737 Hits
4737 Hits

Charitable donations following the GDPUK Conference in November 2016

Charitable donations following the GDPUK Conference in November 2016




On November 4th 2016, GDPUK hosted a conference for our members in Manchester. The day was a fantastic success both educationally as well as socially and the feedback we received was incredibly positive. 


We were extremely proud to host event that was different in style than your “normal” dental event and we believe that was also something that made a difference to the atmosphere on the day. Thanks again to everyone who attended, our excellent speakers for making the day so enjoyable and our sponsors who supported the day and continue to support GDPUK. 

We have now made two charitable donations following the event:-

  • £600 went to a Manchester based charity, close to the Jacobs family, named Prevent, a cancer research organisation, it used to be named Genesis.
  • £400 went to British Dental Association Benevolent Fund, a charity which many of you will know, which supports dental people in times of hardship.

For 2017, we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of GDPUK, and we are planning a bigger, even more exciting event in Manchester on Friday November 17th – Please put this date in your diary! More details to follow in next few weeks. is a social media site for dentists run by a dentist, Tony Jacobs. Established since 1997, there are over 10,000 dental professionals who have joined the community, they use the site to read dental news and blogs, as well as reading and contributing to the GDPUK forum where there have been over 250,000 posts since 2008! GDPUK is a fantastic resource for dentists and a great place to learn about as well as share your own opinion on important matters within UK dentistry.

  2677 Hits
2677 Hits

What's New for 2017

What's New for 2017

A number of new features and opportunities on GDPUK in 2017. Get in touch if you have any questions. Contact details below.

Satisfied customers

We have had a number of satisfied advertisers recently, which pleases us immensely. Thanks to all our customers for their continued use of the site and all the new clients we have taken on recently. We wrote about an extremely satisfied client a few weeks ago, you can read it below, their offer was extremely well received and resulted in a number of sales, which is very pleasing to hear.

Blog on a satisfied GDPUK Client.

New refreshed website

As you will have noted, our website is refreshed and less crowded which we believe makes it look clearer and hopefully easier to navigate. If you have any feedback or would like to provide feedback - please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

20th Year Anniversary

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of GDPUK, something we have mentioned a number of times and will keep mentioning! We are close to putting together plans for a 20th anniversary Party and Conference in November and it is something that we would like as many of our members to attend as possible. Would be fantastic to celebrate with as many people as possible.

Super Leaderboard

Our leaderboard banner continues to be extremely popular with our advertisers. It is 728x90px and appears at the top of all our pages as you can see above. A recent option that we added to the site, is the super leaderboard which appears in the same space as the leaderboard but is super sized - 970x90, giving you even greater brand awareness and exposure on every page of GDPUK.

Number of banners at once

Via our DFP software, our customers can actually run more than one advert at once in a given month. This means one of our customers can actually advertise two things or more at once. One of our clients MC Dental / Repairs is currently doing using this method to advertise a number of offers at once. Added value from GDPUK!

News and Blogs

We continue to publish daily news and blogs, that get read by thousands of healthcare professionals on a weekly basis. Via our daily emails, tweets and facebook posts, we help to educate and inform our readers with the latest dental news and opinion. Something we are very proud of.

Banners are now appearing on the right hand side of the news and blogs. Considering the articles attract plenty of readers on a daily basis, it provides even more exposure for your brand.

As you can see GDPUK continues to evolve and improve, even in its 20th year! Thanks for reading.


  2803 Hits
2803 Hits

Part 1: Introduction

Part 1: Introduction


As mentioned previously, 2017 marks the 20th year of GDPUK. is for dentists and dental professionals to discuss all aspects of their profession, their practice and their business, centred on the UK. Subjects dissected have been diverse, from tips on simple techniques to guidance on buying major equipment, to discussions on the various practice management software packages, and of ongoing developments in British dental politics.

Moderated in Manchester, England by Dr Tony Jacobs BDS, the Group was started in Summer 1997, and continues to grow rapidly. also publishes UK dental news, and has had many exclusive stories, as well as being able to publish the latest news relevant to dentistry before other dental news providers. In addition GDPUK blogs, both editorial and product updates are well read throughout the dental profession and industry. A unique feature is the @DentistGoneBadd visual blog.

The group now has nearly 10,000 members, and attracts interest and sponsorship from major companies involved in the dental trade.

Blog Series

To mark this anniversary, we thought we would put together a 20 (get it!) part series of blogs about online advertising and all the advantages of it. Over the next 19 blogs, I am going to look into detail at the reasons that online advertising is effective and why a medium like an online community can be perfect for your brand …. Especially If you are looking to reach a target audience.

Over the series of blogs, we will explore all the elements of online advertising from how you can be creative, the opportunity to increase brand awareness, plus the adaptability and flexibility of online advertising.

Advertising online can no longer be viewed as a new medium, it is extremely well established but we hope this series can convince the sceptics but also prove useful to anyone who is looking to do some powerful marketing of their brand or product in the year ahead. Please get in touch we any queries or questions.

Hope you enjoy this series of blogs. Thanks for reading.

Happy New Year.

  1980 Hits
1980 Hits

Time to question the Holy Cow

Time to question the Holy Cow
Image Alt here

Discussions on GDPUK forum often stimulate my thinking and my thoughts in this blog are for the nation to consider in 2017. This blog uses dentistry for some of its examples, but is about the future of the NHS, and asks if the marketplace could help development of a different type of health care system, funded not just centrally. I have tried to keep this a short piece, so I have abbreviated the steps for my intelligent readers.

Continue reading
  7348 Hits
7348 Hits

Weasel words by @DentistGoneBadd

Weasel Words by @DentistGoneBadd

  5735 Hits
5735 Hits



Welcome to our latest blog. Below are 5 reasons that we believe make GDPUK a unique place to market your business and reach your target audience of dentists. G.D.P.U.K.




G = Growing


Established in 1997, GDPUK continues to grow

  • 20 years of hosting dental discussion chat and opinion

  • The home of dental opinion in the UK

  • Just under 10,000 members, who are all part of the profession

  • Since beginning of 2014, we have had 3500 new members, the site is constantly growing.

  • Approx 1,000 different people contribute to our forum discussions in a calendar year.

  • In 2016, we are averaging over 4,000 unique visitors a month to the site.

D = Debate

GDPUK is the home of dental opinion and information.

  • The site is proud that it gives a medium for dentists to discuss dentistry in the UK and give their opinion of what matters to them.

  • The site can be controversial but we see that as a good thing. We exist because the content in our news, blogs and forum pages is interesting to read. We continue to attract an audience.

  • This tradition continued at our conference in November 2016 and our 20th anniversary celebrations in 2017.

P = Publisher

Publisher of Daily Dental News and Blogs

  • Large audience follow our news and blogs

  • GDPUK has a news editor, plus a number of paid content writers

  • News stories receive thousands of readers a week

  • A range of blogs are published weekly, full of opinion, humour and insight.

  • Our news is published instantly, so the site carries the latest stories, no monthly deadlines, no print nor post delays….

  • @DentistGoneBadd our comedy blogger attracts around 5,000 readers per week, 100,000 in the last twelve months.

U = Unique Opportunities

Reach your target audience

  • GDPUK offers unique advertising spaces to get in front of your target audience

  • Dentists are reading our site every day of the week.

  • The site is like a dental exhibition every day!

  • Feature on our daily digest email, which gets sent 3 times a day, every day

  • Ask us about what we can offer for a 12 month marketing campaign.

K = Kinship

Become Part of the GDPUK Family

  • We are a small, close knit group and business at GDPUK

  • Work with us and we can help any problems or issues and come back to you instantly

  • We can provide full accountability on everything and we are always available to speak or help.

  • GDPUK loves to build close relationships, with our users, colleagues and also our customers who help to keep the site running.

For more information about GDPUK and how we can help to market your business, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thanks for reading.

  3371 Hits
3371 Hits

Please do not re-register if you have forgotten your details,
follow the links above to recover your password &/or username.
If you cannot access your email account, please contact us.