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Private dentistry - what to expect?

Colin Campbell
by Colin Campbell on 18-May-2023 12:34:47


In case you hadn't realised, healthcare in the United Kingdom is changing faster than we can see.

In a recent article and the expose in the Times, they showed how a third of the adult population of England had paid for a private GP assessment appointment within the past three years.

If that wasn't you, you're soon about to go into the minority.

The NHS is in dire difficulty.

Germany invested 50% more money in social healthcare than the United Kingdom over the last ten years, and that's Germany, where we think they don't have an NHS.

Years of lack of investment in infrastructure in the NHS means it will be many years before it reaches any sort of level that we expect it's supposed to be at. 

A recent trip to A&E by me, when I tore the ligaments in my ankle playing football with my five-year-old nephew, showed me exactly how difficult it is and exactly how backward the systems are.

My wife is a MacMillan nurse for Children, and her laptop, phone system, and IT tie-up are horrendous.

That's just one thing that shows you that the infrastructure is broken.

And so, how does that relate to dentistry?

Well, if we're being completely honest, dentistry is much less important than paediatric cancer, and the investment in paediatric cancer is problematic.

The direction of travel is not into historical NHS practices. It will move towards some form of (much boasted for many years) core service for those that need it most and the provision of basic dentistry.

If you choose or want to work in that system, I applaud you. 

It is an extraordinary place to be and will provide an extraordinary amount of help for those who need it most, but if you decide that you want to use your skills to your maximum and the things that you learned as much as possible, then you will head in a different direction, and that will be towards private dentistry.

Not all private dentistry is the same, though. So many practices are practising private dentistry, which is, in effect, NHS plus, where patients pay for a level of service and quality similar to that which they received in lower-performing NHS practices, only this time they pay for it.

Most dental practices that provide this do not understand how to put together a financial model that makes it work (your pension contributions need to be replaced in your private fees), but if you appreciate the fact that this is what's going on, then you'll understand that there is a pyramid of private dentistry with the cheapest and lowest quality practices at the bottom and the best quality, best performing and best service provision practices at the top.

Most of the quality products that are provided are at the top of that pyramid, but it's up to you where you want to sit.

Sadly, for dentists, though, they do not exit dental school with the skills (either communication-based or technically-based) to be able to harness the change in the environment of private dentistry in the United Kingdom; you only do that through education and observation and assimilation.

And so, however, you decide to do that and to improve yourself, write something down and go at it for the next five years of your career.

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Colin Campbell
Written by Colin Campbell
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