Dentistry focus: An employee-owned future?

The John Lewis Partnership is a well-known and respected retailer loved by its customers and staff.

It is a company which has bucked the recession and remained successful year on year without reducing the quality of its service or levels of public trust.

In fact, performance figures suggest if anything the organisation has become more responsive to its customers, at the same time as modernising its working practices and actually increasing overall staff numbers.

What lies behind this remarkable success? It must correlate with the opinion that the people who work for John Lewis Partnership are amongst the most engaged and empowered employees in any business anywhere.

In fact, they are more than just employees – they are employee owners. Every staff member is a Partner who owns an equal nominal share in the business and has a say in how the business is run.

As a result of this combination of a stake and a say in the organisation, all 75,000 Partners have a clear and vested interest in making the company as successful as it can be. In addition, at the heart of the Partnership lies a very powerful set of values which drive a culture of effective collaboration, continual improvement and fair reward for hard work.

A stake and a say In developing Baxi Partnership Healthcare (BPH), its senior team challenged themselves to discover how they could achieve some of the same outcomes in dentistry? Could they use the same approach and replicate the same kind of success?

In response to that challenge, BPH has developed a new employee owned model for the delivery of dental care services, which was launched at the British Dental Association (BDA) Conference in May 2011.

Responding also to the pressing issues of mounting frustration with red tape and falling morale in the profession, the new model sets out to show dental professionals that there is a ‘third way’ for the management of dental practices.

BPH believes that employee ownership is a way of enhancing the working environment for clinicians and support staff, allowing them to provide better patient care and offering a more sustainable future for the dental profession.

Its approach is built on four key pillars: ·

• An employee owned business model which builds on what is effective in the corporate model whilst improving the working environment for dentists and practice staff

• A culture of productivity, innovation and responsiveness which drives better outcomes for patients

• An ethical approach which allows dentists to focus on patients and rewards the whole practice team for delivering high quality care

• A sustainable future for dentistry which ensures morale remains high and well-qualified dentists remain within the profession. It is hoped that this new employee owned approach will breathe new life into dentistry.

BPH is the brainchild of Dr Simon Gallier BDS, who is working in collaboration with established employee ownership specialists Baxi Partnership Limited. Together they have created a mutual model which aims to put practice owners back in the clinical driving seat and free up dental professionals to do what they do best: deliver high quality dental care.

This is achieved by buying dental practices and then placing them ‘in Trust’ for the benefit of all employees, providing provide an opportunity for all staff to have an equal say in how the business is run.

Dr Simon Gallier qualified as a dentist 29 years ago. He has run his own NHS and private dental practice and following acquisitions, owned and ran a multi-site dental practice and aesthetic clinic in Harley Street with seven dentists, two hygienists, an aesthetician and ten staff. More recently he was Clinical Director of ADP – the third largest dental corporate, so he has first hand experience of practice ownership and the corporate world … and felt there had to be a third way.

Commenting on the launch Dr Gallier said: ‘The dental profession has been having a hard time of late and we need to turn that on its head. Red tape is squeezing the life out of small practice owners, while others are struggling to reconcile themselves with the ethos of the corporate model. Our profession is crying out for a new approach – and that’s precisely what Baxi Partnership Healthcare is offering.’

He added: ‘Our employee-owned model aims to shift the fundamental dynamics of existing approaches to dental practice, pointing to a way forward that improves the offer for patients as well as practitioners, and promises a bright new future for dentistry.’

Mutually beneficial
BPH is developing plans to show how an employee-owned approach can transform the provision of dental services, taking the best of what the corporate model has to offer while reinforcing an ethos of honesty, integrity and professionalism through a new mutual delivery model.

It is an approach of which Amarjit Gill, the outgoing President of the BDA, approves and he welcomed the launch saying: ‘In a new age of low morale, this concept will suit dentists fed up of bureaucracy and who want to focus on good patient care.”

Eddie Crouch, secretary of the Birmingham Local Dental Committee (LDC), said: ‘This exciting new concept in the dental industry will appeal greatly to those who are disillusioned with the ever increasing burden of running a dental practice and allow them to enjoy treating patients again.’

BPH’s employee-owned business model offers a new take on the corporate model. It sets out to reap some the benefits that can come from drawing together a large number of practices around a central support function, including as economies of scale and scope, removing the burden of red tape from clinicians, freeing up working hours and cutting operating costs.

However, importantly the employee owned approach aims to avoid the potential pitfalls some dentists have experienced in the corporate approach, such as low morale, reduced motivation and productivity, poor retention of vital staff, a potential values clash and the need to constantly satisfy the demands of private equity.

BPH will draw on the expertise and track record of Baxi Partnership Limited, whose senior team has worked with some of the UK’s most renowned employee owned organisations, from the John Lewis Partnership and Loch Fyne Oysters through to public sector mutuals such as Central Surrey Health.

BPH will advise dental professionals how to develop an employee-owned culture within practices to help drive up productivity, innovation, continual improvement, employee satisfaction and responsiveness to patients.

By joining BPH, dental professionals would gain four very important things overnight:

• A stake in their own organisation: Anyone who joins will instantly become a Partner and owner within BPH at no personal cost. There will be opportunities beyond that to increase their stake in the Partnership
• Influence over how their organisation is run: Every employee has a direct say through our Partnership Council structure, helping to set the direction of BPH and holder leaders to account
• Participation in a partnership culture: Every employee has both a right and a responsibility to promote open and transparent communication, share information and support colleagues to perform to their highest ability
• Fair reward for hard work: Every employee will receive a fair reward for their hard work in making the organisation a success through supporting the delivery of high quality dental care.

If you feel that an employee ownership model might work in your practice, please contact Simon Gallier at [email protected] or visit to find out more.

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