How I changed my mind about leaving the NHS

Donna Hall talks to Gill Tait about how she went from being opposed to leaving the NHS to an advocate for private dentistry.

As a patient, Gill Tait was staunchly NHS, and she was equally committed to the service throughout her career as a dental nurse and then receptionist in an NHS practice. When her principal dentist said he wanted to change his practice to private, she threatened to leave the practice.

That was 13 years ago – Gill is still the receptionist at Thackeray Dental Care. And not only that, but she is now an advocate for private dentistry and a private patient herself. Here, Donna Hall speaks to Gill to find out what made her change her mind.

Donna Hall (DH): Why didn’t you want to leave the NHS?

Gill Tait (GT): My main concern was whether patients would be able to afford to continue coming to the practice. I didn’t know much about private dentistry at the time, and had no experience of it. All I could envision was heightened fees and patients feeling like it was an expense they could ‘do without’.

I felt so strongly about it that I told our principal dentist, Simon Thackeray, I would leave. I thought it would be disingenuous for me to sell private dentistry when I didn’t believe in it. I had no real perception of what private practice would be like, but now, of course, I think it’s brilliant and would recommend it to anybody.

DH: What made you change your mind?

GT: Simon explained what difference it would make to the patients if we went private, and that it wasn’t all about the money; it was about the patient experience. Michelle Hardy from Practice Plan also took me under her wing and talked me through her experience of taking practices to private.

She also alleviated my concerns about affordability as we were implementing a membership plan, enabling patients to spread the cost. I decided I needed to at least give it a try and see for myself.

DH: What are your thoughts on private dentistry now?

GT: I love it, I can see the difference it’s made to our practice and our patients. The atmosphere in the practice is much more relaxed now and it looks better, partly because we’ve been able to invest in its appearance but also because it’s less crowded as we’re not cramming patients in.

All the staff, both clinical and those on the front desk, now feel they have more time to spend with patients. Some patients might have issues that they’re not aware of but are affecting their dental health and we feel able to spend that extra time talking to them and discussing any issues.

DH: What would you say now to someone who’s in the same position you were back then?

GT: Stay with it and give it a chance because in the long run you will see how much better it is for your patients.

Practice Plan is a specialist provider of practice-branded patient membership plans, and has helped hundreds of dentists make a successful move to private dentistry. If you’re looking for more independence or freedom from the NHS and a more fulfilling and rewarding future, call 01691 684165 or visit

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