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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.

Fear.

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?”

Comfort.

“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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7454 Hits
JUL
15
0

How To Promote Private Dentistry In Your Practice

To Promote Private Dental Treatment You Have To Tell People What You Do!

promote private dental treatment

Neil Sanderson

Just how do you promote private dental treatment? Your private dental treatment may just be one of the best kept secrets in your practice! I don’t think I have been to a dental practice yet where the private treatments offered are being promoted.

If you don’t believe me just have a look around your practice! What information are you currently offering your patients on the services you offer, I suspect if you are like just about every dental practice you aren’t.

Let’s face it dental implants, veneers, bridges, invisible braces are not cheap are they? A couple of implants may well set your patient back many thousands of pounds, a course of Invisalign runs into thousands, these aren’t easy decisions for your patients to make.

When you are thinking of buying a car, holiday, TV etc. you don’t normally make a snap decision, you gather as much information as you can get and hopefully make an informed decision.

This normally means visiting websites, getting brochures, going into a showroom and gathering as much material as possible, which means that you have to do the same to promote private dental treatment in your practice.

Car manufacturers, holiday providers know that they have to promote their products both online and in the showrooms or travel agents, they provide brochures, sales people, downloads etc. and you are no different, people have to have information to make a decision.

So just how do you promote your private dental treatment? Incidentally you have an even more difficult task than a car manufacturer or a holiday company because a large number of your patients and prospective patients don’t even know that your private dental treatment exists.

Many don’t know what an implant is or that they can straighten their teeth without metal braces and if they do they don’t know that it may apply to them. If you take nothing else from this article remember this statement.

It’s not your patients job to find out what you do, it’s your job to tell them!

So just how do your promote private dental treatment in your practice?

Well if you want to do it really well you buy my Practice Information System, but you can do this yourself too if you have the time and can find a good graphic designer, printer, video production company etc., here’s what we provide you and what you need.

  1. Get rid of Sky or BBC news on your reception TV and start to show patients what you do. We provide you with a bespoke video which is branded to you. It has testimonials from your patients, it has you explaining what you can do and it has incredible animations which really grab your patients attention.
  2. You need a brochure and I don’t mean a little tri-fold thing which one of your suppliers has provided I mean a high quality A4 brochure that is produced by you and promotes your treatment, explaining what you can offer and how it can benefit your patients.
  3. We provide you with banners which draw your patients attention to your video and your brochures, but at its simplest just highlights what you can do for them.

We call this our Practice Information System and is designed specifically to promote private dental treatment in your practice.

But it gets better, standing out from your competition is crucial and not only will the video run on the TV in your reception from a standard DVD player, it will run on your website, you can email it (or parts of it) to your patients, it will run on an iPad in your surgery, in fact just about anywhere.

Dental Marketing Expert’s Practice Information System is your one stop shop to promote private dental treatment in your practice.

If you would like more information on Practice Information System, call us now on 01767 626 398 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website www.dentalmarketingexpert.co.uk

  5044 Hits
5044 Hits
MAY
27
0

Are you Independent?

Are you Independent?

Welcome back from the long weekend, now just a few weeks to run and you can all zip off to the sun again  smiley

 

Monday  was perhaps the new Independence Day, as the Euro results poured in. I worry that this word 'Independence' is being politically hijacked

 

So:   Are you independent of mind and decision? Really?  Truly?

 

The EU elections this weekend have thrown three major GDPUK topics into a shaft of light.

Those of you who gaze from a distance at the sheer energy of some of our more vocal members will have notice three threads of great length. One touching on that supposedly untouchable subject, matters of belief and faith, while another has been exploring the issue of the Scottish vote on Independence due to take place later this year. 

Combined with the now famous histrionics of the orthodontic thread, you would be forgiven for having pressed the ‘snooze’ button.

 

So wake up at the back.   I want you to answer a question for yourself.  What does being independent mean to you?

 

Mr Farage is celebrating scoring some points in what is normally a three horse race, by arguing for the UK’s independence, and arguing against the £12Bn net spend to the EU every year.

As dentists, we pride ourselves on being independent – in practice, in thought and in action.

Ask 10 dentists a question to which the answer is Yes or No and you will get 20 different answers.

 

But are we independent? Really? Truly?  Where is the fine line between that and bloody mindedness?

 

If you practice under Government funding in any of the 4 parts of the UK, do you really feel independent? Or are you reluctantly beholden to how someone else wants you to help and practice dentistry for your patients against your better instinct??

If you are in private practice, are you one of those for whom the next big case is always the one to clear the overdraft?  Therefore you are always on the lookout for some poor soul to benefit from your great skills? Or perhaps you feel you cannot practice good dentistry because of a limited private capitation funding stream not of your making?

We even have this long abused concept of Independent Practice, as though “Private Practice” could be rude and insulting perhaps?  Will the BDA rinse that off for the next batch of unknown NHS England contract changes, I wonder?

Perhaps independence of thought and action is actually impossible without feeling pressurised or being selfish.

 

Cooperation over independence?

 

What dentists are masters at is cooperative action.  We run or work within highly efficient micro businesses and at a moments notice we can adapt and cooperate with whomsoever requires our skills and time.  The CQC roll into town – we change and adapt.  A patient arrives – we change and adapt.  New staff requirements develop - we change and adapt.

Long may this be the case because with EU and Scotland and a General Election, the next 18 months are going to be interesting.

That old French phrase has come to life.  Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Strangely while everything around you seems to be up in the air, it takes a very strong sense of independent spirit to simply wind the windows shut and focus on your patient needs with one hand while with the other you change and adapt

So that’s why four-handed dentists have developed !!

 

May your June be flaming. Ta-rah for now, fellow enamel warriors

  4799 Hits
4799 Hits

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