Almost half of dental professionals (NHS performers, Providers and Business Owners) working within the NHS (44%) are less confident that practising dentistry within the NHS will offer the right balance of treatment versus prevention over the next 12 months than they were a year ago, according to an independent study conducted on behalf of Practice Plan.
Despite this worrying statistic, 61% of respondents were as confident that patients will be happy with the outcome of attending an NHS dental practice over the next 12 months as they were in the previous 12 months.
Also worthy of note is that smaller practices appear to have concerns about their future financial success within NHS dentistry. The study reports that 65% of practices consisting of up to three dentists are losing confidence that practising dentistry within the NHS will offer an appropriate level of remuneration over the next 12 months - which is considerably higher than the percentage of respondents across all practice sizes (54%), who felt the same.
In addition, 39% of the respondents asked are less confident about their career prospects within NHS dentistry over the next 12 months than they were a year ago.
These figures are of particular interest in light of the potential for change within NHS dentistry over the next 12 months and beyond. The Department of Health recently announced that prototypes of a reformed contract will start later this year, with practices testing a possible new system in its entirety.
The aim of this NHS Confidence Survey, comprising 80 telephone interviews with a range of practices offering NHS treatments to adult patients, was to gain insight into the confidence levels in NHS dentistry over the coming 12 months.
This means that as time moves on and the selected prototype practices reveal their thoughts and findings on the system, the NHS Confidence Survey, which is scheduled to be carried out at regular intervals during this time of change, will help to provide a snapshot of the general consensus within the dental profession.
What’s more, each NHS Confidence Survey will be followed up with a gathering of key opinion leaders, to explore the results in greater depth and place them in context, and then share their views with dental professionals throughout the UK.
Practice Plan is the UK’s number one provider of practice-branded dental plans. They have been supporting dentists with NHS conversions for over 20 years, helping them to evaluate their options and, for those who decide to make the change, guide them through a safe and successful transition to private practice.
The first gathering of key opinion leaders will be held in February and includes Eddie Crouch, Michael Watson, David Houston, Tony Jacobs, Sarah Franks and Andrew Lockhart-Mirams. Information on their thoughts will be released soon.
For those dentists thinking about their future within NHS dentistry and wondering about what a move to private dentistry might look like for them, then specialist and expert support and guidance is available from Practice Plan’s NHS Change Support Team without obligation.
The NHS Change Support Team provides advice in the key areas of strategic direction, financial planning, commercial finance, business support, team development, marketing and branding.
The NHS Change Support Team can be contacted at 01691 684120 or visit www.practiceplan.co.uk/nhs for further information.